The Creighton Volleyball program fell just short of its first Sweet 16 in program history, falling in four sets at No. 23 Kansas before a crowd of 3,052 at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
Kansas (25-7) advances to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, while Creighton finishes its season with a 23-9 mark. The Bluejay roster will lose only Savannah Smith to graduation off this year's club, which spent six weeks in the top-25 and finished with the second-most wins in program history.
Scores of the match in favor of the hosts were 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21.
The first set featured eight ties and two lead changes, including 17-all, before Kansas broke loose. A kill from Tiana Dockery gave the Jayhawks an 18-17 lead before a controversial attack error call against Michelle Sicner changed the momentum. CU then made a second consecutive attack error to fall behind 20-17 and call its first timeout. The teams would trade sideouts in seven of the next eight points as KU won, 25-20, to take the 1-0 lead. Papillion native Chelsea Albers had five kills for KU, while Creighton featured a balanced attack that saw three kills each from Sicner, Jess Bird and Leah McNary.
Creighton evened the match with a 25-22 win in the second stanza. The Bluejays pulled away with a 4-0 run on Ashley Jansen's serve to move ahead 11-7. KU would narrow the gap to one at 13-12, 20-19 and 23-22, but each time Creighton answered. A Bird kill got CU to set point, where Kelli Browning put away a KU overpass to close out the frame. Creighton hit .294 in the second set while generating four blocks.
Creighton fell behind 14-12 in the third set after a 5-0 run on Erin McNorton's serve for KU. The Jays fought valiantly, rallying from a 21-17 deficit to knot the score at 22-all, only to see the host Jayhawks earn the final three points and the 25-22 victory. A kill from Albers closed out the frame, giving her a match-best 12 terminations through three sets.
Albers was unstoppable in the fourth set, as well, delivering three back-row kills in a span of four points to give KU a 17-11 lead and send the Jayhawks on their way to the second weekend, as Creighton got no closer than two points (22-20 and 23-21) the rest of the frame, closing it out on a Bluejay service error and a block from Albers and Tayler Soucie.
With the win, Kansas advances to the Los Angeles Regional next weekend, where it will face either Washington or LSU next Friday evening.
Lauren Smith led Creighton with 12 kills, while McNary had 10 kills. Both Browning and Bird recorded nine kills in the match. Creighton had 49 kills, three aces, 69 digs and 11.5 blocks on .176 hitting.
Kansas was paced by 18 kills and 17 digs from Albers, including six kills in the final set, while Dockery added 14 kills. The Jayhawks recorded 59 kills, four aces, 82 digs and nine blocks on .218 hitting overall.