Volleyball falls to reigning BIG EAST champs No. 13 Creighton in five-set heartbreaker

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Volleyball falls to reigning BIG EAST champs No. 13 Creighton in five-set heartbreaker

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber attempts a kill with her teammates watching.

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber attempts a kill with her teammates watching.

Photo by Zach Bukowski

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber attempts a kill with her teammates watching.

Photo by Zach Bukowski

Photo by Zach Bukowski

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber attempts a kill with her teammates watching.

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In a battle of teams unbeaten in conference play, No. 13 Creighton defeated No. 10 Marquette (25-21, 25-23, 27-29, 29-31, 15-8) at the Al McGuire Center Saturday night.

Marquette almost lost the match much earlier. After losing the first two sets, the Golden Eagles were down again in the third set. MU battled through two match points, but then the referees incorrectly signaled that Creighton won a challenge and completed a three-set sweep. Instead, Marquette received the point to tie the third set at 24-24 and eventually won the set 29-27.

“It was a great effort,” head coach Ryan Theis said. “I was really proud of the way our team fought. … I love the way our team battled back.”

The Golden Eagles had their best offensive set in the third, hitting at a .326 clip and battled through four match points.

“Great environment tonight,” Theis said. “A lot of fans (stuck) around for a long time.”

The fifth set was a different story. In the Golden Eagles’ fifth five-set match of the season, MU struggled with any offense, giving Creighton a 9-3 lead and eventually the 15-8 set win.

“There were four really terrific plays by them right at the beginning of the game and it just put us behind,” Theis said. “They had a sideline bomb crosscourt swing and a out-of-system ball. … They earned those points because they were phenomenal plays and we just couldn’t come back.

“Those overtime wins are thrilling,” Theis said. “We were siding out at 71% in the third set … when that’s going on, hitters are feeling pretty good about themselves because you’re getting out of point runs, you’re getting out of bad situations.”

Marquette held on in the fourth set 31-29 despite a 22-18 Creighton lead to force a fifth set.

Theis said the team’s inability to win the second set after trailing only 19-18 put the team in too challenging of a position to come back.

“The story would probably be the second game,” Theis said. “We have to get that set. Going down 0-2 is really tough. We had opportunities. … We just shot ourselves in the foot.”

Senior Allie Barber led the Golden Eagles with 23 kills. Junior Hope Werch added a double-double of 11 kills and 10 digs. Senior Madeline Mosher tied Werch with 11 kills. Lauren Speckman tallied a team-high 30 assists and 14 digs, while junior Martha Konovodoff put up 24 digs.

For the Bluejays, redshirt freshman Keeley Davis contributed a career-high 31 kills, hitting at a .390 clip. She also contributed two service aces, a block and seven digs.

“She had it all going tonight,” Theis said. “She’s a really good cross-body attacker. … She had the full range going tonight, off hands, through hands, it was impressive. She was big tonight.”

Madelyn Cole dished out a match-high 63 assists and totaled 14 digs for Creighton’s only double-double. Libero Brittany Witt finished with 35 digs. Naomi Hickman accounted for 11 of the Bluejays’ 14 blocks.

MU has not beaten Creighton at home since Oct. 25, 2013 and lost all three matches against the Bluejays in 2018, which included a four-set defeat in the BIG EAST Championship.

The No. 10 Golden Eagles (15-3, 5-1 BIG EAST) head to Pennsylvania to take on the Villanova Wildcats Friday at 6 p.m.

“I don’t think we’ve been great for two weeks to be honest. That weekend off, we tried to get rest and recover,” Theis said. “We didn’t come back sharp. … We got better and hopefully we can ride with that.”

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