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Creighton volleyball set to face Morehead State in NCAA tournament

Creighton volleyball set to face Morehead State in NCAA tournament

The Big East champion Jays will be in the 48-team field for the NCAA tournament in Omaha.

Creighton will have to build a scouting report from scratch as it prepares for a brand new opponent in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Jays have never faced Morehead State (16-1).

But those two squads will meet in the NCAA tournament's opening round at 2:30 p.m. on April 14. The entire 48-team event will take place inside a bubble-like setting in Omaha.

So CU won't have to travel this week. But it will have to craft a game plan for the Ohio Valley champions, who are in the NCAA tournament for first time since 2013.

"I don't know much about Morehead State," Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said. "(But) we are really excited to get prepared this week and have an opportunity to continue to play here in Omaha."

At least lately, the Jays (12-3) have entered their NCAA opener with the luxury of familiarity with their foes.

They've played first-round games against regional rivals Northern Iowa, South Dakota and Iowa State in the past five tournaments. They've twice opened against Coastal Carolina.

But Morehead State?

"I do not know anything," junior Annika Welty said moments after the bracket got revealed Sunday.

The Jays will have some extra time to get ready.

The tournament won't begin until April 14. Typically, there's a five-day turnaround between the bracket reveal and the first round.

But the participants this year have to clear COVID-19 screenings and then get acquainted with volleyball's version of an isolated bubble.

It'll be different, Booth said, but this entire season's been different.

"Through all of this, of the things our athletes have learned is you need to be flexible and you need to be prepared to deal with adversity in a positive way," Booth said.

The fall sports calendar got postponed until the spring. So the Jays had an abbreviated preseason and a disruption-filled regular season. They endured a COVID-19 pause and multiple scheduling changes.

Heading into last weekend, a team that had made eight straight NCAA tournaments wasn't certain it had put together a strong enough case for an at-large berth. The trimmed-down tournament was only going to feature 18 non-automatic bids.

But the Jays won the Big East tournament title and earned the league's auto invite. That allowed them to celebrate Sunday with a drama-free, socially distanced gathering for the 3 p.m. selection show.

And by Sunday evening, they were ready to get to work.

"I'm really excited," Welty said. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun having it in Omaha."

Creighton's reached the second round of the NCAA tournament the last three years. If it were to beat Morehead State, CU would face No. 8 overall seed Florida (19-3)

The Jays last made a Sweet 16 in 2016.

Photos: Creighton takes on Marquette in Big East final

Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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