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Leah McNary and Lauren Smith led CU's offense on Sunday.
Courtesy: Steven Branscombe

New League, Familiar Finish As Volleyball Tops Shockers in Five Sets

WICHITA, Kan. -- They're no longer rivals within the confines of the Missouri Valley Conference, but Creighton and Wichita State  continued one of the best volleyball rivalries in the Midwest with the fifth five-set match in the past four years between the schools on Sunday.

Meeting as non-conference foes for the first time, the No. 23 Creighton Volleyball team defeated the host Shockers by a 16-25, 25-18, 25-20, 18-25, 15-9 score in the final match of the Shocker Volleyball Classic. Creighton is now 8-1 in its last nine five-set matches against WSU, including one such victory each of the last four years.

Creighton closed out non-conference play with a 9-3 mark against one of the country's most difficult schedules, while Wichita State fell to 11-3 with the setback.

Wichita State used a 6-0 run on Katie Reilly's serve to build a 10-6 lead and never looked back in the first set. CU would draw within 14-12, only to see Chelsey Feekin serve up two aces in a 5-0 run that made it 19-12. The Shockers hit .414 in the first set in a 25-16 win, led by seven kills by Sam Sanders, while CU was paced by four kills from Leah McNary.

The Bluejays evened the match with a 25-18 victory in the second set. The Jays pulled away thanks to a 6-1 run to move ahead 14-9, and never allowed WSU to score more than two consecutive points in any stretch. CU was led offensively by its freshmen, as Lauren Smith had five kills and Jess Bird added four more as CU hit .256. Ashley Andrade led WSU with five kills in the second set, but Sanders was held without a kill in just three swings after a big first frame.

Creighton took a 2-1 lead in the contest with a 25-20 victory in the third frame, keyed by five kills from Smith and four more terminations from McNary. CU broke away with an 8-2 burst to pull ahead 22-15 and never look back. The Jays hit .438 in the set and won despite allowing 18 kills on .389 hitting to the Shocks.

The fourth set saw the hosts reclaim the momentum with a 25-18 victory to knot the score and force a fifth set. Andrade had five kills in six swings and the Shockers held WSU to .024 hitting in the set despite six kills from McNary.

The fifth set featured five ties and three lead changes, only to see CU pull away after a timeout when WSU went ahead 6-4. CU answered with the next four points on a kill by Smith, a Lizzy Stivers ace, and consecutive attack errors by WSU as the teams switched sides with CU ahead, 8-6. After a sideout, CU would score seven of the final nine points of the match, with All-American Kelli Browning picking up two kills and four blocks to lead the way down the homestretch, including one on match point (video below)

Creighton was paced by 17 kills from McNary, while Smith produced a career-high 14 kills to go with six stuffs on .385 hitting. Browning had 10 kills and eight blocks, while Michelle Sicner recorded 45 assists, 14 digs, seven blocks and six kills. Creighton had 58 kills, five aces, 56 digs and 14 blocks on .219 hitting.

Wichita State was led by 17 kills from Andrade, who hit .387. Sanders finished with 12 kills, while Driskill had 14 kills. Papillion native Feekin had 52 assists and 12 digs, while Dani Mostrom led the hosts with 15 digs. WSU had 62 kills, four aces, 68 digs and nine blocks on .233 hitting overall.

Creighton will have next weekend off before returning to the court on Friday, Oct. 4, at Butler in the program's first BIG EAST volleyball match ever.

NOTES: Hawai'i won the Shocker Volleyball Classic with a 3-0 record and had Emily Hartong claim Tournament MVP accolades. Joining her on the All-Tournament Team were teammates Kalei Adolpho and Mita Uiato, Wichita State's Ashlyn Driskill, South Dakota's Kendall Kritenbrink and Creighton's Jess Bird and Kate Elman ...This was the first time in Wichita State's history it had played on four consecutive days ...Leah McNary now owns 11 or more kills in each of her last five matches vs. Wichita State, all Bluejay victories ...Creighton improved to 22-21 all-time vs. Wichita State ...Creighton is one of 18 teams to defeat Wichita State in the last four years, but one of two to do so more than three times. Both CU and Northern Iowa own seven wins vs. the Shockers in that span ...Creighton is now 2-1 in five-set matches this season and 35-18 under Kirsten Bernthal Booth ...The win was Creighton's 50th five-set victory all-time.
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