CREIGHTON 3, DRAKE 1
CU (19-10); DU (23-11)
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Third-seeded Creighton topped No. 6 seed Drake in the first quarterfinal match of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Volleyball Championship on Thursday night at the McLeod Center. Scores of the match in favor of the Bluejays were 25-11, 21-25, 25-18, 25-18.
With the victory, Creighton improves to 19-10 on the season and advances to tomorrow evening's 5 PM semifinal against second-seeded Wichita State. Drake fell to 23-11 on the season and was eliminated from the tournament by the Bluejays in the quarterfinal match for the second-straight season.
Creighton came out firing on all cylinders in the opening set, cruising to a 25-11 victory behind 14 Bluejay kills and just three attack errors (.379). Meanwhile, the Bulldogs produced just six kills and netted 10 errors for a -.129 attack percentage. Three Creighton players - Laurel Sanford (4-0-6), Heather Thorson (5-0-5) and Megan Bober (2-0-5) - produced nearly 80-percent of the Bluejay offense, behind zero combined attack errors, to help Creighton to the 1-0 advantage.
Drake rallied back in the second set to even the score at the intermission, as the Bulldogs never trailed on their way to a 25-21 second set decision. With the score tied at 12-all, Drake tallied the next four points on three consecutive Bluejay attack errors. The Bulldogs hit .159 in the second set and held the Jays to a .042 efficiency.
Creighton took the third set by a 25-18 score, after storming out to a 17-10 lead before Drake rallied to within 21-18. After a Bluejay timeout, Creighton score the set's final four points to go up two sets to one.
Julianne Mandolfo served Creighton to an 11-0 lead in the fourth set, and Drake got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Creighton had four players with 10 or more kills, led by Runge's 14. Thorson finished with a career-high 11, while Sanford and Almgren each slammed 10 kills. Megan Bober set the jays to .224 hitting and added 48 assists and five kills. Creighton's defense was paced by 20 digs from Nayka Benitez, while Mandolfo (15), Allie Oelke (14) and Brooke Boggs (10) also finished in double-figures. Creighton finished with 58 kills, four aces, 71 digs and 11 blocks while hitting .224.
Drake was led by nine kills and 15 digs from Whitney Westrum, but top attacker Angela Bys hit -.029 in 35 swings. Alana Wittenburg led Drake with 19 digs, while Emily Heffernen had a team-best six blocks. Drake finished with 35 kills, three aces, 68 digs and eight blocks while attacking at a .075 clip.