Nobody told these Bluejays the road to their first Missouri Valley Conference volleyball title was going to be an easy one.
Illinois State had No. 25 Creighton on the ropes but was unable to deliver the knockout blow during a pivotal point in the third set as the Jays rebounded to upend the Redbirds 25-21, 22-25, 26-24, 25-17 and clinch a share of the Valley title in front of 1,393 at D.J. Sokol Arena.
It was the 12th consecutive win for Creighton and its 11th in a row at home — both school records.
The win also clinched a bye for the Bluejays in the quarterfinal round of the MVC tournament in two weeks.
The Bluejays can wrap up the outright Valley championship with a win at Wichita State on Friday or Missouri State on Saturday.
After splitting the first two sets, the Jays had their backs against the wall in the third, facing two set points while trailing 24-22.
A Kelli Browning kill got the Jays to within a point at 24-23, and Browning was able to block an Illinois State attack a play later to knot the set at 24.
Browning finished with a team-high 17 kills to go along with five blocks.
Freshman defensive specialist Ashley Jansen stepped in to serve and came up big, scoring an ace to give the Bluejays set point at 25-24.
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“When you get thrown in, you kind of have to stay calm, cool and collected as the coaches say,” Jansen said.
Bluejay coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said she had complete confidence in Jansen coming off the bench to serve.
“That’s hard. Ashley was ice cold. Hadn’t played the entire match, and then they ice her even more with a timeout,” Booth said. “I said, ‘You’ve got ice in your veins, girl.’ ”
Creighton completed the comeback on the next play when Megan Bober outdueled Illinois State blocker Emily Schneider at the net, forcing the kill to win it 26-24 for the Jays and go up 2-1.
Bober, who was playing in her final home match as a senior, scored her 14th career triple-double with 12 kills, 38 assists and 19 digs, good for second in league history.
“We had a great comeback win in that third set, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to end,” Bober said.
“Ashley did a great job, came in for us and made some awesome serves to help get us momentum in that third set to turn it around.”
With the fourth set tied at 16-16, the Bluejays put the Redbirds away with a 10-1 run to seal the match.
Booth said she doesn’t expect her team to ease up as it rolls into the MVC and NCAA tournaments.
“We need to go and play great matches this weekend,” Booth said. “We want to be in the NCAA tournament, and then we want to make noise in the NCAA tournament, so that’s got to be the focus.”
Senior Brittany Moon, who has missed most of this season with an injury, served the first two points of the match before leaving.
Seniors Bober, Moon, Brooke Boggs and Heather Thorson were honored after the match along with senior manager Brittany Wing and junior Natalie Hackbarth, who is not expected to return for her senior year.
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>> Video: Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth after the match: