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This Weekend — Trojan Invitational

Aug. 24    12:30 pm CT    #13 Creighton vs. #5 Kentucky    Los Angeles, Calif. (Galen Center) | STATS | VIDEO | UNI AUDIO

Aug. 24    7:00 pm CT    #13 Creighton vs. Northern Iowa    Los Angeles, Calif. (Galen Center) | STATS | VIDEO

Aug. 25    9:30 pm CT    #13 Creighton at #10 USC    Los Angeles, Calif. (Galen Center) | STATS | VIDEO

This Weekend

No. 13 Creighton (0-0) opens the 2018 season in Los Angeles, Calif., with three matches at the Trojan Invitational on August 24-25.

    The season starts this Friday at 12:30 pm Central when it meets No. 5 Kentucky (0-0).

    At 7 p.m. Central on Friday night, Creighton takes on longtime rival Northern Iowa (0-0).

    On Saturday, the Bluejays close the weekend against the nation’s 10th-ranked team, tourney host USC (0-0), at 9:30 pm Central.

    All three matches will be played at Galen Center (10,258) in Los Angeles, Calif.

Broadcast Information

None of this weekend’s matches will be on radio in Omaha, but a link to UNI’s audio stream for Friday night’s match can be found on the volleyball schedule page.

    All three Creighton matches are expected to be video webcast on the USC Pac-12+ Stream at Paul Duchesne will announce..

Live Stats Information

All matches at the Trojan Invitational will have free live stats at

    Fans can also find the links on the volleyball schedule page.

Scouting #13 Creighton

Creighton went 26-7 last season, reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament, in a season that saw the Bluejays win the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles for the fourth straight season.

    A pair of senior All-American outside hitters return to pace the offense in Jaali Winters (3.37 kps., 2.81 dps.) and Taryn Kloth (3.00 kps., .270%). Junior Brittany Witt (4.24 dps.) was also named an honorable mention All-American after being named 2017 BI EAST Libero of the Year.

    All three women were named Preseason All-BIG EAST in 2018.

    Also back in the middle are a pair of returning starters in Megan Ballenger (2.32 kps., .304%) and Naomi Hickman (1.17 kps.).

    Creighton boasts seven newcomers, including four freshmen who were ranked as the No. 10 recruiting class in the nation, in addition to transfers from Ball State (Grace Nelson), Marshall (Madelyn Cole) and Rutgers (Megan Sharkey).

    Creighton has been picked to finish second in the BIG EAST Conference and was ranked 13th in the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll.

Scouting #5 Kentucky

Kentucky went 29-4 last season, sharing the Southeastern Conference title, before falling in the Elite Eight against eventual national champion Nebraska.

    Junior OH Leah Edmond (4.53 kps., .310%, 0.34 saps.) was a First Team All-American a year ago, and ranks as one of the nation’s most explosive attackers. Joining her on the outside is talented sophomore Avery Skinner (3.32 kps., .247%).

    Sophomore setter Madison Lilley (12.14 aps.) ranked third in the country in assists per set in her rookie season.

    Kentucky was picked to win the SEC and is ranked fifth in the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll.

Scouting Northern Iowa

UNI went 27-9 last season, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Minnesota.

    Senior MB Piper Thomas (4.00 kps., .360%, 0.91 bps.) returns after leading the team in kills, and is joined by junior OH Karlie Taylor (3.87 kps., 3.63 dps.). Both women were named First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference and honorable mention All-Americans last fall.

    Senior libero Kendyl Sorge (4.77 dps.) is also back, as is MVC All-Freshman Team honoree Jaydlin Seehase (2.03 kps.).

    UNI was picked to finish first in The Valley.

Scouting #10 USC

USC went 25-10 last season, falling in the Elite Eight in five sets against eventual runner-up Florida. That was under legendary head coach Mick Haley, who parted ways with the university a week after the season ended.

    New head coach Brent Crouch has one of the nation’s best outside hitters at his disposal, as junior Khalia Lanier (4.29 kps., .35 saps.) was a First Team All-American last fall.

    Sophomore OPP Brooke Botkin (2.07 kps.) and libero Victoria Garrick (3.90 dps.), as well as both setters from a year ago, Reni Meyer-Whalley (6.28 aps.) and Cindy Marina (5.23 aps.), also return.

    USC was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 Conference and ranked 10th nationally in the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll.

The Coaches

Creighton is coached by Kirsten Bernthal Booth (Truman State, 1997), who enters her 16th season with a 317-160 record. She’s led Creighton to four straight BIG EAST titles, and five league crowns in the last six years. Booth led the Bluejays to their first two Sweet 16’s (2015, 2016) and first Elite Eight  (2016) in program history. In 2016  she was recognized as National Coach of the Year, BIG EAST Coach of the Year and AVCA East Region Coach of the Year.

    The winningest coach in school history, Booth has taken Creighton to its only seven NCAA Tournament bids in the program’s modern history. She’s also coached CU into the top-25 each of the last seven years, another program first.

    Booth came to Creighton after going 112-41 in three years at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A native of Lincoln, Neb., Booth played volleyball at Truman State, where she was named conference MVP, an Academic All-American and Missouri’s 1997 NCAA Woman of the Year. She ranked third in Division II history with 6,077 assists when she graduated.

    Booth is assisted by Angie Oxley Behrens, Craig Dyer and Noel Carpio.

Series History vs. Kentucky

Creighton is 2-2 all-time against Kentucky, with the teams alternating sweeps the past four seasons. UK beat the Bluejays in Lexington, Ky., in 2014 before Creighton topped then-No. 10 Kentucky in Cedar Falls, Iowa in 2015. Kentucky hit .415 in a 2016 sweep of the Bluejays in Los Angeles before CU hit .353 to defeat  #13 Kentucky in Omaha by a 25-20, 26-24, 25-20 count.

    Kirsten Bernthal Booth is 2-2 against Kentucky and also 2-2 against Craig Skinner.

Series History vs. Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa owns a 41-9 record all-time against Creighton, including a 4-3 lead in neutral-site meetings. After winning just three of the first 43 meetings, Creighton has won six of the last seven match-ups in the series.

    Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth is 9-22 vs. Northern Iowa and 9-22 vs.  Bobbi Petersen. Petersen is 29-9 overall against Creighton.

    Five of CU’s nine wins against the Panthers have come in five sets. In 50 all-time meetings, Creighton has swept the Panthers just three times, including last season’s 25-18, 25-23, 25-21 win in Omaha.

    Creighton’s last five victories over Northern Iowa have come in five different states (Iowa, Kentucky, California, Kansas, Nebraska).

Series History vs. USC

USC is 5-0 all-time against Creighton, with all five matches taking place in the previous four seasons. Creighton has won the opening set in three of those five meetings, only to have USC rally.

    Kirsten Bernthal Booth is 0-5 all-time against USC, but has never coached against Brent Crouch.

Exhibition Recap vs. Kansas State

Creighton’s defeated Kansas State last Friday, earning a 25-17, 25-18, 25-21, 24-26 decision as the team’s decided to play a fourth set despite Creighton winning the first three frames.

    The Bluejays hit .291 in the win, serving up six aces and contributing 11 blocks on the night.

Last Year Summary

Creighton went 26-7 last fall, winning the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles for the fourth straight season. The Bluejays earned the No. 9 national seed in the NCAA Tournament and hosted for the first time, defeating Coastal Carolina before falling to No. 12 Michigan State in the second round.

    Lydia Dimke, Brittany Witt and Marysa Wilkinson were named honorable mention All-Americans by the AVCA and joined by Jaali Winters as First Team All-BIG EAST honorees.

    Creighton won each of the first three tournaments of the season, picking up wins over No. 3 Washington, No. 7 Kansas and No. 13 Kentucky along the way.

Season Opening History

Creighton’s win over Saint Mary’s last year improved the Jays to 15-9 in season-opening matches since restarting the program in 1994. Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth improved to 11-4 in season-opening matches.

    Booth is also 12-3 in Creighton’s first match away from home, helping Creighton improve to 15-9 in such contests all-time.

    Last year’s triumph over Saint Mary’s was Creighton’s first sweep in a season-opener since a 2009 whitewash of Texas Tech in a match that doubled as the first regular-season contest in D.J. Sokol Arena history.

    In four of the last six years, the team to win the first set of Creighton’s season-opener went on to lose the match.

    Creighton is 1-2 all-time against ranked teams in season-openers, including a 2013 triumph over No. 13 BYU.

Four For Four For Number Five?
Jaali Winters has started each of the last three season openers, and if she gets a similar nod this year she’ll become the 15th player in school history to start the initial match of the season four times. Below is that list:

Four Opening Day Starts

Name    Years

JoDe Cieloha    1994-97

Melissa Weisensee    1994-97

Shlley Kapler    1996-99

Erin Swanson    1998-01

Kailey Reyes    1998-01

Melissa Walsh    1998-01

Carolyn Decker    2004-06, 08

Korie Lebeda    2005-08

Jessica Houts    2006-09

Allie Oelke    2007-10

Heather Thorson    2009-12

Megan Bober    2009-12

Jess Bird    2013-16

Lauren Smith    2013-16

Hello World!

Freshmen Keeley Davis, Annika Welty, Jaela Zimmerman and Kari Zumach could each make their debut this weekend.

    Below is the current Creighton players and how they performed in their regular-season collegiate debuts (and at previous schools in the case of Madelyn Cole, Grace Nelson and Megan Sharkey).

    Records for a Bluejay debut can be found at the bottom of page three.

Year    Name    SP    K    E    TA    Pct.    A    SA    DIG    TB

2015    Jaali Winters•    5    17    6    49    .224    0    1    14    4

2017    Naomi Hickman•    3    5    2    8    .375    0    0    3    1

2015    Taryn Kloth    2    2    0    2    1.000    0    0    0    1

2015    K. O’Connell    3    1    0    4    .250    0    0    0    4

2016    Brittany Witt    5    0    0    0    —    5    2    21    0

2017    A. Roumeliotis    3    0    0    0    —    0    0    3    0

2016    Megan Ballenger    1    0    0    0    —    0    0    2    0

2015    S. Bohnet    1    0    0    0    —    0    0    0    0

2017#    Grace Nelson•    3    0    0    0    —    0    0    2    0

2016*    Madelyn Cole    3    1    1    4    .000    17    0    2    0

2016$    Megan Sharkey•    3    0    1    2    -.500    11    2    3    0

#Nelson’s stats from debut at Ball State

*Cole’s stats from debut at Marshall

$Sharkey’s stats from debut at Rutgers

Some Fab Freshmen

Creighton has started eight different true freshmen in its season opener over the previous eight years, and 14 such players since 2000.

    Since 2000, the only true freshmen to start CU’s season-opener have been Brittany Coleman (2003), Carolyn Decker (2004), Korie Lebeda (2005), Allie Oelke (2007), Brooke Boggs (2009), Heather Thorson (2009), Julianne Mandolfo (2010), Katie Neisler (2011), Michelle Sicner (2011), Melanie Jereb  (2012), Ashley Jansen (2012), Jess Bird (2013), Jaali Winters (2015) and Naomi Hickman (2017). In addition, CU also started redshirt freshmen Lauren Smith (2013) and Brittany Lawrence (2015), as well as transfers Maggie Baumert (2014) and Lydia Dimke (2016) in season-openers.

    Seven of those women (Coleman, Decker, Lebeda, Oelke, Mandolfo, Sicner and Jereb) went on to land a spot on the MVC’s All-Freshman Team (the BIG EAST has no such team). Winters was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Year in 2015, while Dimke was named BIG EAST Player of the Year in 2016.

Head To Head

This weekend’s Trojan Invitational marks the fifth straight season Creighton, UNI, USC and Kentucky have met in a tournament that has rotated sites.

    The Women of Troy are 10-2 with three titles (2014, 2015, 2016), Kentucky is 6-6, Creighton is 5-7 with one title (2017) and UNI is 3-9.

    USC is 4-0 against Creighton and 3-1 against both UNI and Kentucky.

    Creighton is 3-1 against Northern Iowa, 2-2 against Kentucky and 0-4 against USC.

    Northern Iowa is 1-3 against Kentucky, 1-3 against Creighton and 1-3 against USC.

    Kentucky is 3-1 against Northern Iowa, 2-2 versus Creighton, and 1-3 against USC.

    The event host has gone 8-4 with two titles (USC, 2016 and Creighton, 2017).

Final Tournament Standings, Last Three Years

2014 @UK    USC 3-0    UK 2-1    CU 1-2    UNI 0-3

2015 @UNI    USC 3-0    CU 1-2    UNI 1-2    UK 1-2

2016 @USC    USC 3-0    CU 1-2    UK 1-2    UNI 1-2

2016 @CU    CU 2-1    UK 2-1    UNI 1-2    USC 1-2

Tourney Results, Last Four Years

Match-up    2014    2015    2016    2017

CU-UK    UK 3-0    CU 3-0    UK 3-0    CU 3-0

CU-USC    USC 3-1    USC 3-0    USC 3-2    USC 3-0

CU-UNI    CU 3-2    UNI 3-1    CU 3-0    CU 3-0

USC-UNI    USC 3-0    USC 3-0    USC 3-1    UNI 3-1

UK-UNI    UK 3-1    UK 3-1    UNI 3-0    UK 3-2

UK-USC    USC 3-0    USC 3-0    USC 3-0    UK 3-1

Familiar Foes

The field for this weekend’s Trojan Invitational is meeting for the fifth straight season, as the event started in 2014 in Lexington, went to Cedar Falls in 2015, was held in Los Angeles in 2016 and last year was in Omaha. This year marks the renewal of the event for another four years.

    The event features a nice mix not only geographically, but also of some traditional and upcoming powers in the college game.

    USC has made 27 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and been to the Regional Final (or beyond) in 12 of the last 17. The Trojans claim six national titles in program history. Saturday’s showdown will be the fifth meeting between the Bluejays and the Women of Troy since September 4, 2015.

    Northern Iowa has won 20 or more games in 16-of-18 seasons under Bobbi Petersen, during which time the Panthers have advanced to 13 NCAA Tournaments.

    Kentucky has made 13 straight NCAA Tournaments, a streak that coincides with the arrival of coach Craig Skinner. The Wildcats own 20 or more wins in 10 of the last 11 seasons and have four Sweet 16 trips in that span.

    Creighton has ascended onto the national stage in recent seasons. Since inheriting a 3-23 team in 2003, Kirsten Bernthal Booth has helped the Bluejays reach the NCAA Tournament in seven of the previous eight seasons, winning a match six of those times. All nine seasons of 20-plus wins in the program’s modern history have come since 2006.

Old MVC Rivals Get Reacquainted

Friday night’s match-up with Northern Iowa will be Creighton’s 51st against the Panthers since the program’s restart in 1994, the most of any opponent.

    The only other teams that Creighton has played more than 40 times are Wichita State (45) and Illinois State (43).

    UNI is the only opponent to defeat Creighton more than 30 times, something the Panthers have done 41 times.

    Creighton and Northern Iowa have played all but one season (2013) since the Bluejays restarted volleyball in 1994.

    The teams were Missouri Valley Conference rivals who played twice annually from 1994-2012, plus six more MVC Tournament meetings.

    The teams did not play in 2013, but have played each of the past four campaigns as part of a four-year tournament that also includes Kentucky and USC. The rivals also met in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, a match won by CU in five frames.

    Creighton is 4-1 against Northern Iowa since leaving the MVC, compared to a 5-40 mark when the two were Valley rivals.

    The teams will also meet on September 15th at the Illini Classic in Champaign, Ill.

Connections To UNI And The State of Iowa

Creighton and UNI have numerous connections between the two schools and states.

    Head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth grew up during part of her childhood in the Cedar Falls suburb of Waterloo, and attended grad school at the University of Iowa. She got her first college head coaching job at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    Creighton’s McCormick Endowed Director of Athletics Bruce Rasmussen is a 1971 graduate of Northern  Iowa. He has been at Creighton since 1980, ascending to the Athletic Director  position in 1994.        Creighton men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott played (1984-88) and served as a head coach (2001-06) at Northern Iowa.

    Northern Iowa women’s basketball head coach Tanya Warren played at Creighton and has spent two stints as an assistant coach with the Bluejays. One of two players in program history with a retired number, Warren played for Rasmussen.

    Creighton Sports Information Director and volleyball contact Rob Anderson worked as Northern Iowa’s volleyball SID in 2000 and 2001.

    Creighton’s Jaali Winters and Megan Ballenger are both from Ankeny, Iowa, Samantha Bohnet is from Council Bluffs, Iowa and Megan Sharkey hails from Bettendorf, Iowa.

Kloth Approaches 1,000 Kills
Taryn Kloth finished her junior season with 937 career kills, and eyes the 1,000 milestone in her senior campaign.

    When she gets there, Kloth will be the second active Bluejay to reach the 1,000 mark, as Jaali Winters owns 1,392 career kills.

    Winters reached 1,000 in last year’s opening match vs. Saint Mary’s in her 73rd career match. Kloth enters her senior season having played in 99 career contests. Kloth’s career-high kill total for one match is 23, which came vs. USC in 2016 in her last visit to the Galen Center.

Creighton’s Quickest Players To 1,000 Kills (Career)

Name    MP    Date    Opponent

Melissa Walsh    70    10/15/00    Eastern Illinois
Jaali Winters    73    08/25/17    vs. Saint Mary’s

Leah Ratzlaff    76    10/22/04    Missouri State

JoDe Cieloha    83    09/13/97    at Drake

Kelly Goc    87    11/24/06    vs. Northern Iowa

Jessica Houts    90    11/08/08    Illinois State

Leah McNary    96    09/12/14    Pepperdine

Amanda Cvejdlik    99    11/15/08    at Evansville

Shelly Kapler    103    11/18/99    vs. Missouri St.

Allie Oelke    107    10/09/10    Wichita State

Kelli Browning    110    10/26/14    DePaul

Lauren Smith    119    10/07/16    at Villanova
Marysa Wilkinson    120    09/30/17    at St. John’s

Spike Town
Jaali Winters enters her senior season with 1,392 kills, good for fourth place on Creighton’s all-time career kills list. She can move into the top-three with 23 kills this weekend, passing Kelly Goc (2004-07).

Most Career Kills, Creighton History

        Name    Sets    No.    Years

    1.    Leah Ratzlaff    409    1,622    2002-05

    2.    Melissa Walsh    394    1,596    1998-01

    3.    Kelly Goc    394    1,414    2004-07

    4.    Jaali Winters    377    1,392    2015-Pr.

    5.    Jessica Houts    451    1,385    2005-09

    6.    JoDe Cieloha    398    1,375    1994-97

    7.    Leah McNary    458    1,257    2011-14

    8.    Marysa Wilkinson    499    1,183    2014-17

    9.    Lauren Smith    511    1,160    2013-16

    10.    Allie Oelke    445    1,126    2007-10

    11.    Kelli Browning    424    1,104    2011-14

    12.    Amanda Cvejdlik    343    1,029    2005-08

    13.    Shelly Kapler    388    1,000    1996-99

    14.    Jess Bird    377    965    2013-16

    15.    Erin Swanson    319    955    1998-01

    16.    Ashley Williams    359    941    2001-04

    17.    Taryn Kloth    344    937    2015-Pr.

    18.    Megan Bober    480    833    2009-12

European Summer Tour

Creighton got a head start on the 2018 season with an 11-day trip to Europe in mid-June.

    The team played five matches while spending time in Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic.

    All 15 members of the 2018 team were allowed to participate, including the seven newcomers.

Top 10 Recruiting Class

Creighton’s freshman quartet of Keeley Davis, Annika Welty, Jaela Zimmerman and Kari Zumach were named the nation’s No. 10 recruiting class by That’s the highest-ranked class in program history.

    The same organization ranked Davis as the nation’s No. 42 recruit, with Zimmerman 49th.

    Creighton has had just two top-50 recruits previously (No. 18 Taryn Kloth in 2015, No. 41 Jaali Winters in 2015) while No. 50 (in 2014) Lydia Dimke went to Purdue for two years before transferring to Creighton.

Top-100 Senior Aces at CU

Rank    Year    Player

68    2004    Carolyn Decker

55    2008    Laurel Sanford

60    2011    Michelle Sicner

73    2013    Jess Bird

50    2014    Lydia Dimke*

18    2015    Taryn Kloth

41    2015    Jaali Winters

98    2017    Naomi Hickman

99    2017    Steph Gaston

42    2018    Keeley Davis

49    2018    Jaela Zimmerman

* signed with Purdue and later transferred to Creighton Recruiting Class Rankings

Year    Rank    Freshman Recruits

2004    Best of the Rest    (Baumann, Decker, Goc, Lahm, Mehal)

2005    Honorable-Mention    (Cvejdlik, Houts, Lebeda)

2006    None    (Bloemke, Schulze, Workman)

2007    None    (Feldman, Oelke, Vrbicky)

2008    Highest Honorable-Mention    (Almgren, Bober, Sanford)

2009    Highest Honorable-Mention    (Boggs, Greisch, Moon, Templeton, Thorson)

2010    High Honorable-Mention    (Fliss, Hackbarth, Malm, Mandolfo, S. Smith)

2011    Highest Honorable-Mention    (Browning, McNary, Neisler, Sicner, Stivers)

2012    High Honorable-Mention    (Elman, Jansen, Jereb, L. Smith)

2013    None    (Bird, Crawford, Foje)

2014    Highest Honorable-Mention    (Lawrence, Tupper, Wilkinson)

2015    11th    (Ballenger, Bohnet, Kloth, O’Connell, Winters)

2016    High Honorable-Mention    (Conlon, Taylor, Witt)

2017    25th    (Gaston, Hickman, Roumeliotis)

2018    10th    (Davis, Welty, Zimmerman, Zumach)

One Great Tournament

Around the country, only five matches during the opening weekend of the 2018 season feature a pair of top-13 teams.

    Three of those will take place in Los Angeles at the Trojan Invitational (No. 13 Creighton/No. 5 Kentucky; No. 10 USC/No. 5 Kentucky; No. 13 Creighton/No. 10 USC), while the other two will be in Lincoln at the Vert Challenge when No. 7 Florida meets both No. 3 Texas and No. 2 Nebraska.

The Gauntlet

Creighton plays five different non-conference teams that were in the top-25 of the preseason AVCA coaches poll. That’s tied for the most in the nation, with Northern Iowa, Texas, USC and Wichita State.

    The Bluejays meet up with No. 2 Nebraska, No. 5 Kentucky, No. 10 USC, No. 12 Illinois and No. 21 Iowa State in 2018.

    This is the sixth straight season that Creighton will face four or more non-conference foes that are in the preseason Top 25.

Ranked To Start The Year

Creighton starts the season ranked No. 13 in the AVCA Coaches poll. It’s the fifth time in the past six campaigns that CU’s been ranked in the preseason AVCA poll, and third straight fall.

    Being ranked in the preseason poll is no guarantee of future success, however. In the previous 10 seasons, only 178-of-250 teams (71.2 percent) would be in both the preseason and postseason AVCA Top 25 polls.

    Since 2008, all but 25 teams (of 250) named in the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll would go on to reach the NCAA Tournament (90.0 percent).

Creighton’s History in the AVCA Preseason Poll

    Year    Preseason Rank    Final W-L    Final Rank

    2013    25th    23-9    NR

    2014    23rd    25-9    NR

    2016    18th    27-9    9th

    2017    9th    26-7    16th

    2018    13th    TBD    ???

Top 25 History

Creighton is 10-71 all-time against teams in the top-25 of the AVCA poll, but 5-5 since the start of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

    Last year’s win at No. 3 Washington was the highest-ranked team that the Bluejays has ever beaten, surpassing a win at No. 4 Kansas the previous December.

    Creighton is 4-27 all-time against top-10 foes (4-20 under Kirsten Bernthal Booth).

    Creighton lost its first 31 true road matches against top-25 foes, but has ‘improved’ to 4-34 after wins in recent seasons at No. 23 North Carolina (2015), No. 4 Kansas (2016), No. 3 Washington (2017) and No. 7 Kansas (2017).

    Creighton is 58-17 all-time when playing as a ranked team, and also 6-10 all-time against ranked teams when ranked itself. That mark improves to 2-0 when both Creighton and its opponent are ranked in the top 10.

    Since the start of the 2012 season, 25 of Creighton’s 45 losses have come against ranked teams. In that same period, Creighton is 151-20 against unranked teams. Creighton has won 35 straight home matches over unranked teams.

    This is the second time that Creighton has been ranked exactly 13th, joining November 13, 2017. Creighton lost at Villanova before winning at Georgetown and fell to 17th the subsequent poll.

    Creighton is 0-4 all-time against teams ranked exactly fifth, and have been swept in each contest.

    Creighton is 1-3 all-time against teams ranked exactly 10th, sweeping No. 10 Kentucky in 2015 for its lone victory.    

Top 25 Jays

Creighton starts the 2018 campaign ranked 13th, landing a place in the top 25 of the AVCA poll for the 23rd straight week. That streak started on Oct. 31, 2016.

    Nationally, that’s the 14th-longest active streak, as seen below:

Consecutive Active Weeks in AVCA Top 25

    Streak    Team    Current Rank

    527    Stanford    1

    527    Nebraska    2

    444    Penn State    6

    417    Florida    7

    241    Washington    17

    221    Texas    3

    76    Wisconsin    9

    75    BYU    8

    63    UCLA    11

    46    Minnesota    4

    32    San Diego    14

    27    Kentucky    5

    26    Utah    19

    23    Creighton    13

Regular-Season Tournament History

Creighton is 102-93 in the 66 regular-season tournaments it has participated in all-time, including a 45-24 mark since the start of 2012. Kirsten Bernthal Booth‘s teams are 82-60 in 51 regular-season tournaments, including 12 titles.

    Creighton had won just two of 16 regular-season tournaments prior to Booth’s arrival.

    Last year marked the first time since 2004 that Creighton won back-to-back regular-season tournament titles in the same season, and is also the first time Creighton has won three tourney titles in the same regular-season.

Coaching Them Up

For the sixth time in seven years, Creighton will have a new opening day setter.

    The Jays have started the season with Megan Bober in 2012 vs. UCF before Michelle Sicner took over in the 2013 lid-lifter vs. BYU. In 2014 Maggie Baumert started the opener at setter against Lipscomb, while Kenzie Crawford got the call versus Miami (Ohio) in 2015. Lydia Dimke started the initial contest in both 2016 and 2017, but she has graduated.

    The revolving door at setter hasn’t hurt the team in that time, as each of the previous six seasons ended in the NCAA Tournament, and five of them saw Creighton win conference titles. Creighton also won five of those six season-opening matches.

Select Company

The BIG EAST’s Creighton and Marquette are two of 19 teams nationally to have appeared in each of the last six NCAA Tournaments. That group features BYU, Colorado State, Creighton, Florida, Florida State, Hawaii, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, San Diego, Stanford, Texas, USC and Washington.

    Creighton is one of 15 teams to win a match in each of the last three NCAA Tournaments. That group includes BYU, Creighton, Florida, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Purdue, Penn State, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, USC, Washington and Wisconsin.

    Creighton is also one of 19 schools with six straight seasons of 20+ wins (2012-17). That list features American, BYU, Colorado State, Creighton, Florida, Florida State, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette, Nebraska, North Carolina, Penn State, Stanford, Texas, UTSA, Washington, Western Kentucky and Wichita State.

    Creighton is also one of just nine schools nationally who have won 23 matches or more in each of the previous six seasons (2012-17). That group consists of BYU, Creighton, Florida, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford, Texas, Washington and Western Kentucky.

    Creighton is also one of 11 teams to be in the year-end AVCA poll in 2015, 2016 and 2017. That list includes BYU, Creighton, Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, Washington and Wisconsin.

BIG EAST Preseason Poll

For the first time since Creighton’s 2012 season in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bluejays were not picked to win their league. This year a preseason poll of BIG EAST coaches tabbed Marquette with 78 points and six first-place votes, edging out Creighton’s 76 points and four first-place votes. Butler was picked third in the league’s preseason poll, with Villanova fourth.        Creighton also had three women named to the 12 member on the BIG EAST’s preseason all-conference team, as Taryn Kloth, Jaali Winters and Brittany Witt were all honored. It was the second straight preseason honor for Kloth and Witt, and third in a row for Winters.

    Creighton has finished in the spot predicted of them or better in the preseason poll in 13 of the past 15 years, including eight years where it’s finished exactly where it was predicted.

Year    Preseason Pick    Finish    Move

1994    11th    9th    #2

1995    9th    7th    #2

1996    9th    6th    #3

1997    8th    3rd    #5

1998    6th    8th    i2

1999    T-7th    5th    #2

2000    4th    T-4th    – –

2001    2nd    4th    i2

2002    7th    9th    i2

2003    9th    T-5th    #4

2004    5th    5th    – –

2005    5th    5th    – –

2006    4th    4th    – –

2007    3rd    T-2nd    #1

2008    3rd    2nd    #1

2009    4th    T-4th    – –

2010    4th    3rd    #1

2011    3rd    4th    i1

2012    4th    1st    #3

2013    1st    T-2nd    i1

2014    1st    1st    – –

2015    1st    1st    – –

2016    1st    1st    – –

2017    1st    1st    – –

2018    2nd    ??    ??

Survival of the Fittest

Creighton has won eight matches under Kirsten Bernthal Booth after surviving an opponent’s match point. Three of those comeback wins have come against Wichita State.

    On the other hand, Creighton is 317-2 under Booth when it reaches a match point opportunity, falling only when it wasted two match points on Sept. 4, 2010 to Iowa and two other match points on Nov. 1, 2013 in a loss to St. John’s.

Surviving Match Points, Under Booth

Date    Opponent    MP(s) Faced    Final Set 5

08/30/03    vs. McNeese State    13-14, 15-16    18-16

10/10/03    Wichita State    13-14    16-14

10/13/06    at Wichita State    12-14, 13-14, 14-15    17-15

09/11/07    at Drake    13-14, 14-15    17-15

08/26/11    vs. UTSA    12-14, 13-14    16-14

11/16/12    at Wichita State    13-14    16-14

09/20/15    Kansas State    23-24 (4th set)    15-13

11/20/15    at Georgetown    23-24, 26-27 (4th set)    15-7

2-0 Better Than 0-2

Creighton is 265-9 (.967) all-time when leading a match 2-0, including a 208-3 mark (.986) under Kirsten Bernthal Booth. CU has won 41 straight when up 2-0, and is 135-1 when up 2-0 dating to September of 2009.

    Conversely, the Jays are 13-192 (.063) all-time when trailing a match 0-2. Those 13 comebacks in program history from down 0-2 are listed below.

Date    Opponent    Sets 3-5 scores    Coach

09/19/97    at Bradley    15-11, 15-13, 15-8    Wallace

10/01/99    at Drake    15-6, 17-15, 15-11    Wallace

09/03/04    vs. Montana    30-20, 30-21, 15-11    Booth

10/15/04    at Bradley    30-22, 30-23, 15-11    Booth

10/15/05    at So. Illinois    30-25, 30-24, 15-8    Booth

09/21/07    at No. Iowa    31-29, 30-26, 15-12    Booth

11/16/12    at Wichita St.    25-16, 25-20, 16-14    Booth

09/05/14    vs. No. Iowa    25-16, 25-22, 15-5    Booth

11/08/14    at Butler    25-16, 25-20, 15-13    Booth

09/20/15    Kansas State    25-23, 26-24, 15-13    Booth

10/09/15    DePaul    25-21, 25-12, 15-11    Booth

11/20/15    at Georgetown    30-28, 26-24, 15-7    Booth

10/13/17    Butler    25-21, 25-23, 15-9    Booth

Set 1 Result = Match Result

Creighton is 263-28 (.904) overall under Kirsten Bernthal Booth when it wins set one. In that same time span, CU is just 54-132 (.290) under Booth when it drops the first set.

    Since Aug. 29, 2010, Creighton has gone 80-1 in its last 81 home matches when taking a 1-0 lead, losing only on Sept. 12, 2015 to Pacific.

    Last year’s team was 22-0 when winning the first set and 4-7 when dropping the first set.

    Dating back to Sept. 22, 2016, Creighton has won 41 straight matches at all sites when winning the first set.

Jaali Gets 10+ Kills Daily
Jaali Winters finished the 2017 season with 10 or more kills in each of her last 10 matches. That’s tied for the 11th-longest streak in program history.

    It’s the third different streak she’s had of 10 or more matches, joining Kelly Goc and JoDe Cieloha for the most such streaks in program history.

    In 11 previous career matches against Kentucky, UNI or USC, Winters owns 10 or more kills in seven of them.

Consecutive Matches, 10 or More Kills

    58    Leah Ratzlaff, Sept. 13, 2003-Sept. 9, 2005

    21    Jaali Winters, Oct. 6, 2015 – Aug. 28, 2016

    19    JoDe Cieloha, Sept. 26-Nov. 21, 1997

    14    Kelly Goc, Sept. 8-Oct. 19, 2007

    13    JoDe Cieloha, Sept. 7-Oct. 18, 1996

    13    Jaali Winters, Nov. 12, 2016-Sept. 1, 2017

    12    Amanda Cvejdlik, Aug. 25-Sept. 19, 2006

    11    Melissa Walsh, Oct. 14-Nov. 17, 2000

    11    Kelly Goc, Oct. 14-Nov. 19, 2005

    11    Amanda Cvejdlik, Oct. 14-Nov. 19, 2005

    10    JoDe Cieloha, Oct. 29, 1994-Sept. 2, 1995

    10    Melissa Walsh, Oct. 5-Nov. 3, 2001

    10    Kelly Goc, Sept. 24-Oct. 28, 2006

    10    Leah McNary, Nov. 10, 2012 – Sept. 6, 2013

    10    Jaali Winters, Nov. 4, 2017-Present

Taking The Fifth

Creighton is 52-27 in five-set matches under Kirsten Bernthal Booth. That’s impressive since Creighton had never finished a season with a winning record in fifth sets prior to Booth’s arrival.

    Creighton has won 12 of its last 15 true road matches to go five sets, including wins in 2012 over league rivals Northern Iowa, Wichita State and Missouri State, wins in 2013 at Denver and at Wichita State, wins in 2014 at Butler and at St. John’s, a win at Georgetown in 2015, an NCAA Tournament win at No. 4 Kansas in 2016 and  2017 victories at Butler, Georgetown and Marquette.

    It’s also worth noting that Creighton is 11-3 all-time in five-set home matches at D.J. Sokol Arena.

    Below is a list of Creighton’s record in five-set matches on a yearly basis:

Year    Set 5 W-L    Total W-L

1994    0-2    5-20

1995    0-2    11-19

1996    2-6    9-19

1997    3-5    15-13

1998    2-3    7-18

1999    3-3    13-15

2000    3-3    16-12

2001    1-1    14-13

2002    1-3    3-23

2003    5-1    12-18

2004    4-0    18-11

2005    3-1    16-14

2006    4-2    21-10

2007    2-0    21-10

2008    2-3    18-9

2009    1-4    14-17

2010    3-3    21-12

2011    5-2    17-14

2012    4-1    29-4

2013    3-2    23-9

2014    3-2    25-9

2015    5-2    27-9

2016    4-3    29-7

2017    4-1    26-7

2018    0-0    0-0

Total    67-55    410-312

Marian Pipeline

This is the 16th straight season that Creighton Volleyball had at least one product of Omaha Marian High School on the roster, as senior Kelsey O’Connell and junior Brittany Witt return.

    Each of the last seven years, Creighton’s year-end leader in digs has been a player that attended Marian.

    Interestingly, the Bluejays had never had a volleyball player from Marian between 1994-2002. Here’s a look at Creighton’s pipeline of players from Marian.

2018: Kelsey O’Connell, Brittany Witt

2017: Kelsey O’Connell, Brittany Witt

2016: Kelsey O’Connell, Brittany Witt

2015: Kate Elman, Ashley Jansen, Kelsey O’Connell

2014: Kate Elman, Ashley Jansen

2013: Kate Elman, Ashley Jansen

2012: Kate Elman, Ashley Jansen

2011: Julianne Mandolfo

2010: Lisa Greisch, Julianne Mandolfo

2009: Lisa Greisch

2008: Emily Crowley, Korie Lebeda

2007: Korie Lebeda, Katie Mehal

2006: Korie Lebeda, Katie Mehal, Emily Greisch

2005: Korie Lebeda, Katie Mehal

2004: Katie Mehal, Emily Greisch

2003: Emily Greisch

Production Returns

Creighton returns 8-of-13 letterwinners to the court from last season, including four starters and libero Brittany Witt.

    From last year’s team, only Marysa Wilkinson, Lydia Dimke, Kenzie Crawford, Jaclyn Taylor (transferred to Nebraska-Omaha) and Brittany Lawrence (graduated and transferred to Northern Colorado) are not back.

    Below is a breakdown of the production that is back:

Stat    Returners    Departures

Assists    334 (22.7%)    1203 (77.3%)

Digs    1465 (76.7%)    444 (23.3%)

Aces    123 (80.9%)    29 (19.1%)

Kills    1164 (69.1%)    520 (30.9%)

Matches Started    118 (59.6%)    80 (40.4%)

Points    1428 (68.5%)    656 (31.5%)

Blocks    141 (56.9%)    107 (43.1%)

Against NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

Last season Creighton played 14 matches against 2016 NCAA Tournament qualifiers, going 8-6 against such teams.

    This year’s team will play 11 matches against teams that played in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, including each of its three opponents at the Trojan Invitational.

    After going 3-35 against teams coming off NCAA Tournament bids prior to Kirsten Bernthal Booth‘s arrival, the Jays are 70-90 since.

Year    W-L vs. Previous Season NCAA Teams

1994    0-4

1995    0-2

1996    0-2

1997    0-3

1998    0-5

1999    2-4

2000    0-4

2001    1-6

2002    0-5

2003    0-3

2004    2-2

2005    0-6

2006    4-6

2007    4-9

2008    6-8

2009    1-11

2010    4-7

2011    2-6

2012    8-3

2013    6-6

2014    4-5

2015    11-5

2016    10-7

2017    8-6

TOTAL    73-125

TOTAL Under Booth    70-90

Six Straight NCAA’s

Creighton Volleyball has made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last six seasons. They are the first women’s team in any sport at Creighton to make six straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

4 Straight BIG EAST Regular-Season Titles

Creighton has won each of the last four BIG EAST regular-season titles. No team had won four straight regular-season BIG EAST titles (including shares) since Notre Dame won seven in a row from 1999-2005.

    Notre Dame had also been the last team to win four or more straight outright BIG EAST regular-season titles, having claimed four in a row from 1999-2002. No team has ever won five straight outright titles, which CU is striving to do.

    The only other team in Creighton history to win four (or more) straight regular-season titles was the men’s soccer program, which claimed five straight MVC crowns from 1992-96. All five of those soccer titles were also outright titles.


Creighton won its fourth straight BIG EAST Championship title last year, becoming the first team to do so since Notre Dame won four in a row from 1995-98.

    Creighton (2014-Present), Pittsburgh (1988-94) and Notre Dame (1995-98) are the only four schools to ever win back-to-back-to-back-to-back BIG EAST Championships in volleyball.

    The only five schools nationally to win a league tournament each of the last four seasons are American, Coastal Carolina, Creighton, Denver and Western Kentucky.

    Creighton is 9-1 all-time in five appearances at the BIG EAST Championships, reaching the final each time.

    Dating back to its Missouri Valley Conference days, Creighton has made 15 straight appearances in a league tournament after appearing in just 4-of-9 tournaments prior to Kirsten Bernthal Booth‘s arrival.

I Know What You Did Last Summer
Taryn Kloth gained valuable experience this summer with the US Collegiate National Team, spending 11 days in China in late May.

    It’s the second straight season that Kloth has been part of USA Volleyball, as in 2017 she was part of USA Volleyball’s team that went to Minneapolis, Minn.

    Among Kloth’s USA Volleyball teammates from 2018 that Creighton will face this season include Madison Lilley (Kentucky), Carlyle Nusbaum (Lipscomb) and Jenna Rosenthal (Marquette).

Lucky Number Seven
Kirsten Bernthal Booth is in some select company, as she directed her troops to seven NCAA Tournaments. That puts her in the company of some of the greatest coaches in CU Athletics history.

    Booth is one of four head coaches in Creighton history to lead seven different NCAA Tournament teams, and tops among all females.

Name    Sport    NCAA’s @CU
Bob Warming    Men’s Soccer    11
Kirsten Bernthal Booth    Volleyball    7

Dana Altman    Men’s Basketball    7
Brent Vigness    Softball    7
Elmar Bolowich    Men’s Soccer    6

Climbing The List
Kirsten Bernthal Booth became Creighton Volleyball’s winningest coach in the program’s modern history on August 26, 2007, and hasn’t let up.

    Booth won her 300th match at CU on Sept. 24 vs. Villanova, and now owns 317 victories on the Bluejay sideline to rank sixth in school history.

Coach, Sport    Victories
Brent Vigness, Softball    757*

Mary Higgins, Softball    564
Ed Servais, Baseball    517*
Tom Lilly, Men’s & Women’s Tennis    427*

Dana Altman, Men’s Basketball    327
Kirsten Bernthal Booth, Volleyball    317*
Jim Flanery, Women’s Basketball    312*

*still active coaching at Creighton

All They Do Is Win

Creighton owns a 107-32 record in the previous four seasons. On a national basis, the 107 wins are tied for 10th-most.

Most Wins, Since 2014

    Rank    School    Wins    

    1.    Western Kentucky    123

    2.    Penn State    121

    3.    Nebraska    118

    4.    BYU    117

    5.    Washington    116

    6.    Stanford    113

    7.    Texas    111

    8.    Dayton    110

        Florida    110

    10.    Creighton    107

        American    107

        Colorado State    107

        Wisconsin    107

    14.    Minnesota    106

    15.    Towson    104

    16.    North Dakota    103

    17.    Kansas    101

    18.    Denver    100

        Kentucky    100

        SMU    100

        Wichita State    100

Italic = 2018 Creighton opponent

Winters Joined 1,000 & 1,000 Club
Jaali Winters enters her senior season with 1,392 career kills and 1,025 career digs. She’s the third player in CU history with 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs, and first to get there as a junior.

    Melissa Walsh (1,596 kills; 1,240 digs) and Allie Oelke (1,126 kills; 1,382 digs) previously accomplished the feat.

Year-By-Year In Non-Conference Play

Creighton finished non-conference play in 2017 with a 7-4 record, its most wins since 2013 when it opened 9-3.

    Creighton Volleyball went 3-3 against ranked non-conference teams last season. Before last fall, CU had been 2-43 all-time vs. ranked teams in regular-season non-conference matches.

Non-Conference Records, By Year, Under Booth

Year    Non-Con W-L    vs. Ranked Non-Con    Final W-L

2003    3-8    0-0    12-18

2004    8-2    0-1    18-11

2005    6-5    0-3    16-14

2006    8-3    0-1    21-10

2007    6-5    0-3    21-10

2008    3-5    0-3    18-9

2009    3-8    0-3    14-17

2010    5-5    0-1    21-12

2011    5-7    0-1    17-14

2012    9-2    0-1    29-4

2013    9-3    1-2    23-9

2014    7-6    0-5    25-9

2015    6-7    1-4    27-9

2016    6-6    0-4    29-7

2017    7-4    3-3    26-7

2018    0-0    0-0    TBD

This and That

Amaze your friends and neighbors with these nuggets…

• Creighton’s Naomi Hickman and Kentucky setter Madison Lilley were club teammates who helped KC Power to the USAV 18 Open Championship in April of 2017.

• With two wins on Friday, Creighton would improve to 412-312 in program history. It’d mark the first time that CU has been 100 or more wins over .500, an impressive feat considering the program was 59 matches under .500 before Kirsten Bernthal Booth‘s arrival.

• With a win on Saturday night at No. 10 USC, Creighton would even its all-time record in true road matches to 151-151. CU lost its first three road matches in 1994 and has never been .500 or better on the road, though the Bluejays are 116-74 all-time under Kirsten Bernthal Booth in true road contests.

• Creighton’s Sept. 6 home opener vs. No. 2 Nebraska will be the program’s 300th home match. CU is currently 190-109 at home all-time, but is 0-4 at CHI Health Center Omaha where that contest will be held. A crowd of more than 10,000 fans is expected for the showdown.

• All four of Creighton’s seniors will graduate in December.

• The career leaders for Creighton Volleyball in digs (Kate Elman), aces (Molly Moran) and blocks (Kelli Browning) also own the CU record for that same category for a Bluejay debut. Jaali Winters (kills) is likely to join them by season’s end.


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