You’d think the Big East did the Creighton volleyball team no favors with a front-loaded schedule that included five of six matches against teams entering the weekend a combined 39-16 overall.
But the Bluejays have weathered the storm just fine.
Kelli Browning led all players with 15 kills and Leah McNary added 14 as Creighton avenged its only conference loss with a 25-22, 25-14, 20-25, 25-19 win against Butler in front of a Sokol Arena crowd of 1,324.
Michelle Sicner tied a Creighton record with her eighth straight double-double, notching 44 set assists and 10 digs.
After taking the first two sets, the Bluejays came out of intermission and fell behind 8-3 in the third set before rallying to tie it 9-9.
But the Bulldogs put together a 6-1 run to provide enough cushion to win the set and get back into the match.
Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said she was puzzled with the way her team tripped out of the locker room to fall behind in the third.
“We have to continue to work on that,” she said. “We can get ourselves out of it, but it takes us 10 or 20 points before we settle back down.”
The Bluejays then broke open a tight fourth set. After leading 19-18, CU won six of the final seven points to put the match away.
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“I was pleased that we didn’t get nervous in the fourth game,” Booth said. “We really, I thought, stepped up and did some good things.”
Sicner said she had no problems finding hitters to set in the win against the Bulldogs, who had beaten the Bluejays in four sets Oct. 4.
But she was confident in passing to Browning, who had 29 kills during weekend wins over Butler and Xavier.
“On our team we have so much parity, and so it’s whoever is hot on that night or that set or that game,” Sicner said. “And Kelli just had an awesome weekend. She was seeing the block well and swinging aggressively, and it worked out well.”
The win vaulted Creighton into sole possession of first place in the Big East by a half-game over Marquette, and it sets up the second battle for the top spot in eight days when the Bluejays travel to face the Golden Eagles (12-5, 4-1) Friday in Milwaukee.
Creighton (14-4, 5-1) overtook Xavier for first place Friday in a five-set match.
Booth said she expects Marquette to be in a foul mood after being swept by the Bluejays on Oct. 13 in Omaha.
The match precedes a men’s basketball scrimmage at the Al McGuire Center.
“Marquette feels like they came here and laid an egg,” Booth said. “So I know just by reading some of the things and seeing some interviews after that match, that they have revenge on their minds.
“So it should be a full house. But that’s fun. Our players are pretty stoked about that. It should be a great atmosphere for volleyball.”