CU Volleyball Sweeps Hoyas, Wildcats

With the BIG EAST tournament looming, CU made quick work of two of the league's weaker teams.

This weekend, the Creighton Bluejays (21-7, 12-4 BIG EAST) closed out the regular season at D.J. Sokol arena with a pair of sweeps.

With victories over Georgetown (10-19, 4-12 BIG EAST) on Friday night and Villanova (12-17, 4-12 BIG EAST) Sunday afternoon, the Jays earned the two seed in next week's conference tournament in Omaha.

In the first match of the weekend, the Bluejays only needed 88 minutes to dispatch the Hoyas in by scores of 25-19, 25-17 and 27-25. Three players reached double figures kills, led by Jess Bird's 11. Lauren Smith and Leah McNary each finished with 10. Bird also recorded a double-double with 11 digs. Michelle Sicner had 16 digs in addition to 36 assists. Sicner's responsibility is eased by a multitude of options able to finish plays.

"We've got a lot of parity in what we want to go on offense, which is a luxury for Michelle (Sicner) when we're hitting well," said Jays' Coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth.

In the opening set, the Jays trailed after the first couple points. After tying the match at two, CU never trailed again, leading by as many as seven points. The Bluejays got out to a quick start in the second set and built a lead as big as nine. The teams had 10 ties and three lead changes in the final set. With the match tied at 25, Browning had a kill before Kate Elman's service ace ended things. Creighton was able to overcome 23 total errors over the course of the match, Georgetown made just 16. Even though CU swept the Hoyas, there is room for improvement.

"We didn't play well in the third set. We know we need to just play our game and not to worry about who the opponent is," said Sicner

Sunday afternoon, Creighton celebrated the career of Savannah Smith who recently decided that she will graduate in the spring even with another season of eligibility available to her. Like Friday night, this was another quick match, lasting just 81 minutes. CU won 25-23, 25-14 and 25-21.

The opener saw 15 ties and five lead changes in what was the longest set of the three. Early on, the Wildcats led by three points, which put the rest of the set into full back-and-forth mode. Tied at 23, Browning got the final two kills to close out the set. Set two once the Jays started rolling they never looked back and took a 2-0 lead on a Savannah Smith kill, much to the delight of her teammates.

"It was awesome that on the day she was honored she was able to win us the second set," said Sicner.

Creighton led the entire third set, but Villanova made a late charge. Lauren Smith's 12th kill of the match wrapped up a perfect weekend. Bird added 10 kills in the match. Coach Bernthal Booth is pleased to see two of her freshman playing so well.

"If they both continue to improve like we hope they do, good things will happen for both. But with their work efforts we're excited," said the Jays' coach.

Sicner had her second double-double in as many matches with 33 assists and 10 digs. With the postseason looming, wrapping up the regular season with two wins was of high importance to CU.

"We know it was big for us due to seeding for the conference tournament but also to get things figured out," said Browning.

Entering the weekend, Butler, Creighton, Marquette and Xavier were all assured of making the BIG EAST Tournament, but seeding was on the line. The Golden Eagles are the regular season champion and will play the fourth seeded Butler Bulldogs at 4 p.m. on Friday. After that, around 6:30 p.m., the host and second seeded Jays will face the Musketeers around 6:30 p.m.. The finals will be Saturday at 5 pm.

Final BIG EAST standings: Marquette (15-1, 23-5), Creighton (12-4, 21-7), Xavier (12-4, 21-10), Butler (11-5, 24-7), Seton Hall (7-9, 16-15), St. John's (5-11, 16-16), Villanova (4-12, 12-17), Georgetown (4-12, 10-19), DePaul (2-14, 16-14).

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