No. 12 Washington seemed well on its way to sweeping the No. 17 Creighton Bluejays after winning the first two sets and leading 15-11 in the third.
But then the Jays woke up, coming from behind to take the third set and lead 4-1 in the fourth.
CU wasn’t able to sustain the momentum, though, as the Huskies held on for a 25-19, 25-17, 21-25, 25-19 victory to win the Bluejay Invitational at Sokol Arena with a 3-0 record.
Washington got 16 kills each from Claire Hoffman and Kara Bajema, who was named the tournament MVP.
The Huskies outhit the Bluejays .325 to .213 for the match.
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Keeley Davis registered 14 kills for the Bluejays, while Jaela Zimmerman had 12 and Erica Kostelac added 11.
Washington serves had the Jays off balance most of the match.
The Huskies tallied nine aces overall and five in the first set.
Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said Washington, which knocked the Bluejays out of the NCAA tournament last year, was the best team Creighton has seen this season.
“I thought Washington executed what we need to do a little bit better. They attacked the edges of the block better. They beat us in the serve-and-pass game that we knew that we probably needed to do to be successful,” Booth said.
“With that said, I liked the way we responded in Game 3 and even in parts of Game 4, and I thought we were more aggressive. We have some huge takeaways that we learned this weekend that can help us move forward.”
Washington coach Keegan Cook said it was the best his team as served all season.
“A lot of tough serving from us initially. Creighton returned fire a little bit in that third set, and then in the fourth set, we got back to form and added a few blocks to pull away,” Cook said.
Cook said he came away impressed with the young Bluejay squad.
“Man, that Creighton team looks like they’re ahead of schedule from what we thought they would be. I’m happy to see them now and not in December, I think,” he said.
The Bluejays’ only lead in the first set was at 1-0, and the Huskies built as much as an eight-point advantage and held off a late Creighton surge to win the set.
The Jays (5-3) inched as close as 21-18 before Washington took four of the last five points.
The second set was all Washington. The Huskies never trailed as they outhit the Bluejays .258 to .088.
Washington jumped to a 4-1 advantage in the third set before the Bluejays responded with a 6-3 run.
The Huskies (7-1) won eight of the next 12 volleys to regain the lead at 15-11.
The Bluejays fought back with a 6-2 surge to tie the set at 17 on a Zimmerman kill, and two straight Brittany Witt aces put the Jays in front 19-17.
Creighton held on down the stretch to extend the match.
The Bluejays carried the third-set momentum into the fourth, opening a 4-1 lead.
But Washington responded with a 9-2 run to go up 10-6 and cruised the rest of the way to ice the match.
Kostelac and Witt were named to the all-tournament team along with UNO libero Claire Mountjoy.
The Bluejays hit much better in the earlier match Saturday with Drake as they won 25-17, 25-18, 23-25, 25-9.
Kostelac tallied 15 kills, Zimmerman added 13 and Davis chipped in 10 for Creighton.
The Bluejays hit .340 in the match while the Bulldogs could only muster a .058 hitting percentage.
Creighton, which defeated two ranked opponents last weekend, will next host former Missouri Valley rival Wichita State on Thursday and Wyoming on Saturday in the Creighton Classic.
Drake (5-4) 17 18 25 9
At Creighton 25 25 23 25
DU(kills-aces-blocks): Bush 14-2-2, Plock 7-0-0, Rabbitt 4-0-0, Gergen 3-0-0, Lemke 2-0-1, Tubbs 1-0-3, Smith 1-1-0, Macke 0-2-0, Ford 0-1-0. Totals 32-6-6.
CU: Kostelac 15-4-0, Zimmerman 13-0-2, Davis 10-1-3, Ballenger 9-0-6, Hickman 9-0-2, Cole 5-0-2, Schmitt 1-0-0, Bressman 1-0-0. Totals 63-5-15.
Set assists: DU 32 (Aspinwall 14, Smith 12, Macke 5, Bush 1), CU 60 (Cole 45, Witt 8, Zimmerman 3, Van Eekeren 2, Ballenger 1, Nelson 1).
Washington (7-1) 25 25 21 25
At Creighton (5-3) 19 17 25 19
UW (kills-aces-blocks): Lauren Sanders 5-0-3, Avie Niece 4-0-6, Ella May Powell 1-1-5, Samantha Dreschel 9-3-5, Kara Bajema 16-2-0, Claire Hoffman 16-2-1, Shayne McPherson 1-1-0, Emma Calle 0-0-0, Maria Bogomolova 1-0-0, Dani Cole 0-0-0, Shannon Crenshaw 0-0-0, Cailin Onosko 0-0-0. Totals 53-9-20.
CU: Grace Nelson 0-0-0, Jaela Zimmerman 12-1-0, Erica Kostelac 11-0-1, Madelyn Cole 2-1-1, Megan Ballenger 6-0-2, Naomi Hickman 8-0-2, Brittany Witt 0-3-0, Ally Van Eekeren 0-0-0, Keeley Davis 14-0-1, Emily Bressman 1-0-0. Totals 54-5-7.
Set assists: UW 51 (Powell 45, McPherson 3, Niece 1, Drechse 1, Crenshaw 1); CU 52 (Cole 47, Witt 4, Ballenger 1). A: 1,896