The Lady Bisons, 3-2, opened with 25-23 win in set one, lost 25-21 in set two and the beat Creighton 25-16 in set three and 25-20 in set four at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
“It was kind of like the Kansas match,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “We said we had to stick with the game plan and keep the pressure on them.
“It’s a great win. Creighton is a top 50 program that goes to the NCAA Tournament every year. These types of matches are what we are playing for. I can’t say enough about our players, coming back from the loss to Kansas.”
There was little time to dwell on the 3-1 loss to host Kansas. The Lady Bisons had to arrange to eat and then find some time to rest and regroup before facing Creighton after playing Kansas at noon.
Middle hitter Alex Kelly made a season-high and match-high 22 kills and added 18 digs, also a personal season high. She also had a .391 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer made a season-high 17 kills and added 12 digs. It was the second double-double of the day for Hinemeyer who had 12 kills and 14 digs against Kansas.
“Creighton did a lot of great stuff at the net blocking-wise,” said Rosenthal. “They really frustrated us early. Alex kind of kept us in it. In both sets one and two were down late in the sets. We kind of kept fighting through it.
“Meghan struggled a little bit at first. We made some adjustments between sets two and three. The biggest thing was believing in the team.”
Rosenthal likes having strong outside options to help Kelly.
“I think Alex will be the first to tell you that when we have options like that they can’t just focus on her,” said Rosenthal. “That being said, teams do it a lot and Alex gets a lot of double blocks.
“She keeps working and fighting for every point she gets. She is a competitor who just wants the ball.”
Opposite Erin Pierce made a match-high and season-high 19 digs. Also in double figures in digs were setter Stefine “Jake” Pease with 16 and libero Katie Rose with 13.
Pease made 49 assists.
“I think we did a great job defensively at the end,” said Rosenthal. “We beat them about 16 in digs. We say it all along that defense translates into us scoring.
“We were behind the eight-ball with Creighton blocking so well. I just kept asking for more and more defensively. Our players really dug deep and laid it on the line.”
Rosenthal praised the play of freshman outside hitter Kory Honel who came on strong in the final set.
“Kory is the unsung hero of the Creighton match,” said Rosenthal. “She played a little bit in the matches last week at Tennessee, but she really got some experience in this match.
“When we really needed a spark she came in and did a great job of getting us going. Because Creighton was doing such a great job blocking they were really focusing on Alex and our middles. It doesn’t show a whole lot on the stat sheet but in the end she was impressive offensively when it counted the most and we needed to put the match away.”
Creighton’s Allie Oelke led her team with 11 kills. Nayka Benitz led in digs with 17. Megan Bober added 14.
Creighton fell to 1-4 with the loss. The Lady Bisons are 3-2.
The Lady Bisons will close out the tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday against Florida International. The Lady Bisons lost 3-0 on Sept. 6 last season in the Middle Tennessee State Tournament.
“It is hard to play teams with a lot of international players,” said Rosenthal. “We just have to keep doing what we are doing.”