For the second consecutive year, the No. 9 Creighton Bluejays dashed the No. 16 Marquette Golden Eagles’ hopes of a BIG EAST title, winning the BIG EAST Championship in four sets (26-28, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21).
The first set had 22 ties and 13 lead changes, and neither team led by more than two points. The Golden Eagles narrowly won the set 28-26. Sophomore Hope Werch had a team-high seven kills and had a .462 hitting percentage. Marquette hit .314 as a team while holding Creighton to .222.
The Bluejays completely dominated the second set. They grabbed a 19-9 lead and never relinquished it. Consecutive Sarah Rose service aces helped Marquette go on a 7-0 run and cut the deficit to three points, but Creighton senior Taryn Kloth’s kill helped the Bluejays win the set 25-22.
The Golden Eagles took an early 9-4 lead in the third set, but a 11-2 Creighton run gave the Bluejays the advantage. Marquette head coach Ryan Theis called a timeout, but Creighton finished off the set despite six ties and three lead changes.
At the verge of a losing another BIG EAST Championship to Creighton, Marquette hopped out to a 3-0 lead in the final set. The Bluejays went on a 4-0 scoring run to extend their lead to 8-4. Following a Theis challenge and call reversal, the Golden Eagles cut the deficit down to two, but Creighton won the set 25-21 to clinch another conference title.
Creighton’s duo of Winters and Kloth single-handily dominated Marquette’s defense, finishing with 19 kills apiece. Junior Madelyn Cole ended with a match-high 48 assists and 18 digs. Cole also had three of Creighton’s six service aces.
Allie Barber led Marquette with 20 kills. Werch notched 14 kills and eight digs. Rose had a team-high 26 assists and had three service aces. Sophomore Martha Konovodoff ended with a match-high 19 digs.
Since the No. 16 Golden Eagles (26-6, 15-3 BIG EAST) lost, it is now up to the NCAA selection committee whether or not Marquette will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
It was the third matchup between Marquette and Creighton this season. Creighton swept Marquette in Omaha, Nebraska, and won in four sets in Milwaukee.
The NCAA Volleyball selection show airs at 7:30 p.m. Central time Sunday on ESPNU.