Creighton volleyball coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said she issued a challenge to her team after Friday's upset loss at home to St. John's: Respond by playing with something she didn't see Friday.
“I challenged them to come out and play with passion,” Booth said.
The Bluejays made their answer loud and clear with a 25-18, 25-20, 25-18 sweep of Seton Hall in front of 1,231 at Sokol Arena. The win helped Creighton regain a share of second place in the Big East.
Leah McNary led the Bluejays with 14 kills while freshman Jess Bird netted her third straight double-double and fourth in five matches with 10 kills and 12 digs.
McNary said she was determined to bounce back after Friday's loss, when she committed six attack errors and hit .038.
“I had a really bad match on Friday,” she said. “So I think I was just trying to bring it this game, keep my composure and not get flustered.”
Michelle Sicner, who had 36 set assists for CU, said she sensed early that McNary was going to be the hot hand and made sure she got her the ball.
“She was finding a way to put it down whether it was rolling, tipping or hitting, and it worked out well for us,” Sicner said.
Creighton improved to 16-6 overall and 7-3 in the Big East, tied with Xavier for second.
The Bluejays own the tiebreaker for tournament seeding with a season sweep of the Musketeers.
Booth said she was impressed the way her team was able to move on after the loss to the Red Storm.
“I think it was a big match for us,” Booth said. “We needed to bounce back. Obviously, Friday night was disappointing.
“It's easy to think things are great when you're rolling. It really shows what you are as a team in how you deal with adversity.”
The Creighton defense was key in the Sunday's win as Kelli Browning had nine blocks and the back row duo of Kate Elman and Ashley Jansen teamed up for 29 digs, 19 by Elman.
“I thought our backcourt defense played the best they've played in a while, and I thought our blocking was again solid,” Booth said.
After leading the first set wire-to-wire, the Bluejays fell behind early in the second 5-3.
That's when Jansen stepped to the service line and delivered seven straight winners as CU took a 10-5 lead and never looked back to take a 2-0 set lead.
“Ashley just does so many good things,” Booth said. “She was good last year, but she's improved a lot and continues to improve.
“She's really becoming a key cog to what we're doing this year.”
Creighton will hit the road for the next two weekends starting with matches at Villanova on Friday and Georgetown on Saturday.
Seton Hall (12-13, 3-7) ................... 18 20 18
At Creighton (16-6, 7-3) .................. 25 25 25
SHU (kills-aces-blocks): Amanda Hansen 6-0-2, Shelbey Manthorpe 2-1-4, Danielle Schroeder 3-0-1, Ashani Rubin 4-0-3, Stacey Manthorpe 6-0-2, Sara Connell 0-0-0, Molly Grammer 9-0-1, Tessa Fournier 0-0-0, Simona Sekulova 0-0-0, Alyssa Warren 0-0-0.
CU: Ashley Jansen 0-1-0, Melanie Jereb 7-0-3, Kelli Browning 7-1-9, Michelle Sicner 3-0-4, Jess Bird 10-0-4, Lauren Smith 6-0-2, Katie Neisler 0-0-0, Savannah Smith 0-0-0, Amanda Foje 0-0-0, Kate Elman 0-1-0, Leah McNary 14-0-1, Lizzy Stivers 0-0-0.
Set assists: SHU: 28 (Shelbey Manthorpe 21, Warren 5, Stacey Manthorpe 2); CU: 43 (Sicner 36, Jansen 2, Jereb 2, Elman 2, L. Smith 1). A: 1,231
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Video: Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth after the game:
Video: Creighton vs. Seton Hall highlights