The redshirt freshman who closed out Creighton’s 25-14, 25-18, 20-25, 25-18 victory over Georgetown on Sunday said she didn’t rise for the match-clinching swings with her mind on the ones she’d missed earlier. Or the miscues that seemed to be plaguing her normally sharp teammates.
The Bluejays were seizing control in crunch time, and Keeley Davis could sense that.
She saw smiles along the sideline. She heard encouraging oneliners from the veterans on the court. The crowd started roaring, too.
So Davis went for it.
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She pounded a kill. Then she drilled a crosscourt shot. The Hoyas scored, but she answered by deceptively landing a tip. Moments later, Davis and the Jays were celebrating a four-set win after the rookie smashed a ball off a blocker’s hands for her fourth kill during the match’s final six rallies.
“They just gave me adrenaline and it made me want play fun and focused,” Davis said.
Sunday’s result was the fourth consecutive victory for No. 14 Creighton (9-3, 2-0), though CU dropped a set for the first time in its past nine regular-season conference matches. The players admitted they weren’t as crisp or as engaged as they should have been.
Davis didn’t have the best start herself in front of 1,804 at Sokol Arena. The Hoyas (11-5, 1-1) handled a couple of her early swings. They blocked another. She pulled one wide.
“She just needs to be confident,” senior Megan Ballenger said. “She plays really well when she does that. I think you see that swagger come out (at the end).”
It wasn’t the first time.
Davis has emerged as the team’s kills leader (2.86 per set) within this balanced attack. She has reached double-digit kills in nine of her first 12 matches — she’s the third player in program history to do that. She has won the Big East’s past three freshman of the week awards.
In her first collegiate match last month, Davis tallied a team-high 13 kills. And she earned an unprompted shoutout from Nebraska coach John Cook afterward — because her roll-tip shots were disguised so well.
Yet Davis, from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, hasn’t always viewed herself as an unquestionably potent force on the outside.
When Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth talked through a redshirt plan before last season, Davis breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t feel ready then.
“I didn’t know how competitive college actually was,” Davis said.
But she’s settling in now, showing an increased level of aggressiveness match after match, Booth said.
There’s still room to grow — even Sunday, Davis had some technique mistakes on swings (related to footwork and posture) that she has been emphasizing since the offseason.
Still, Davis found a way to step up when it mattered most. She said she embraced the moment.
“I’ve just been so excited to play, that’s been my motivation,” Davis said. “After not playing for a year, I get to go out with my teammates and have a good time with them — and that drives me to be better.”
Georgetown (11-5, 1-1) 14 18 25 18
At Creighton (9-3, 2-0) 25 25 20 25
GU (kills-aces-blocks): Vujosevic 15-0-0, P. Wilhite 9-0-5, Barbosa 6-1-0, Serrett 2-0-4, B. Wilhite 3-0-2, Cusi 0-2-0, Wertzberger 3-2-2, Watkins 0-1-0. Totals 38-6-13.
CU (kills-aces-blocks): Davis 13-1-2, Zimmerman 7-0-2, Cole 2-1-2, Ballenger 10-0-4, Hickman 8-1-4, Witt 0-1-0, Kostelac 8-2-2. Totals 48-6-16.
Set assists: GU 37 (Pivonka 27, Cusi 8, Watkins 2), CU 44 (Cole 38, Witt 4, Ballenger 1, Van Eekeren 1).