Even for a Creighton volleyball team slow to put its foot on the gas several times this season, the hole the Bluejays dug Friday proved too much to overcome.
And this time it dropped Creighton a spot in the Big East standings.
After losing the first two sets to St. John’s, Creighton won the next two to force a fifth set, but fell 25-19, 25-22, 17-25, 19-25, 17-15.
The Red Storm fought off two match points and won five of the final six points of the fifth set to pull the upset Friday in front of 834 at Sokol Arena.
The Bluejays (15-6, 6-3 Big East) entered the contest in a second-place tie with Xavier and holding the tiebreaker advantage over the Musketeers. Creighton’s loss, coupled with a Xavier sweep of DePaul, dropped CU into third place in the Big East.
Coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth blamed early Creighton miscues for the loss to St. John’s, which had lost six of its previous eight matches and was in sixth place in the nine-team conference.
“The match was lost in games one and two,” Booth said. “We’ve been struggling with handling some stress on the court, and I thought we saw that in one and two.”
The Bluejays rebounded from a 9-6 deficit in the fifth set, winning the next four points to take a 10-9 lead on a stuff by Michelle Sicner. Sicner registered her third triple-double of the season with 10 kills, 44 set assists and 10 blocks.
“Coach kind of talked about how we kind of lost it in the first two games,” Sicner said. “We did good things in the third, fourth and fifth, but we should have never let it get there.”
In the fifth set, Creighton had a chance to put the match away after a Lauren Smith kill put CU up 14-12. But a kill by Yaidy Santiago and an ensuing attack error by Jess Bird tied it 14-14. Bird had a team-leading 15 kills and 10 digs.
Karin Palgutova iced the match with three kills in the final four points, leading all players with 19 kills.
“I really thought we regrouped and kind of got a rhythm that we haven’t had in about four or five weeks,” Booth said. “But they came up with some big plays.”
The Bluejays will host Seton Hall Sunday at noon.
St. John’s (15-11, 3-6) ............................ 25 25 17 19 15
At Creighton (15-5, 6-2) ............................ 19 22 25 25 17
SJU (kills-aces-blocks): Karin Palgutova 19-1-0, Deniz Mutlugil 1-1-1, Yaidy Santiago 15-0-1, Briana Guzman 6-0-2, Ashley Boursiquot 9-0-5, Melissa Chin 0-1-0, Mona Karkkainen 7-0-4, Shawna-Lei Santos 1-0-0, Aleksandra Wachowicz 5-0-0. Totals 63-3-13.
CU: Ashley Jansen 0-0-0, Melanie Jereb 6-3-3, Kelli Browning 12-0-10, Michelle Sicner 10-1-10, Jess Bird 15-0-0, Lauren Smith 10-0-6, Savannah Smith 0-0-0, Kate Elman 0-0-0, Leah McNary 7-0-4, Lizzy Stivers 0-0-0. Totals 60-4-33.
Set assists: SJU 61 (Mutlugil 59, Palgutova 1, Santos 1), CU 55 (Sicner 44, Elman 4, Jansen 2, Jereb 2, Bird 2, Browning 1).