At first glance a 25-22, 25-18, 25-13 victory by Marquette over Creighton on Friday night does not scream evisceration. But the Bluejays, who came into the McGuire Center just outside the AVCA top 25 and ranked fifth in RPI, never held a lead over the Golden Eagles.
Marquette, who has lost to Creighton in closely contested straight sets at their last two meetings (last year's NCAA tourney and earlier this season at Omaha), got the party started early going up 8-4 in the first before Creighton called timeout. The strategy worked for the Jays who then closed to within one, but they had to burn a second timeout down 14-8. Once again Creighton got within one, but there would no more timeouts to bail them out. Led by Autumn Bailey's 7 kills, Marquette snuffed out a late rally by the Jays, who staved off three set points, to take the first.
Consecutive attack errors by Creighton, consecutive service aces by Ellie Rauch, double contact error, attack error, Lindsey Gosh's first kill of the night, consecutive kills by Teal Schnurr, another Rauch ace, and a kill to add to Bailey's total: the second set opened with Marquette going Cobra Kai to sweep Creighton's leg. The Jays called their second timeout in a 11-0 hole (the first at 5-0 did nothing to stem the Golden Eagles' barrage). The rest of the set was closely contested and the Golden Eagles comfortably took the set on the strength of their gaudy opening.
Bluejay Kelli Browning's kill tied the score at 1-1 after the third started with a Gosh kill. It was the last whiff of opportunity before Marquette closed the door on Creighton: the Golden Eagles didn't allow consecutive points by their opponents in the third and cruised to victory. Creighton also didn't do themselves any favors by committing 5 attack errors and 4 service errors in the set while Marquette had just a single service error.
Marquette's freshman led the attack: Bailey finished with 13 kills followed by Nele Barber (12), Schnurr (7), and redshirt Meghan Niemann (6). The Golden Eagles are now the only team with just a single loss in Big East play and therefore overtook the Jays at the top of the conference standings.
Next up: Marquette is back in action today against Villanova at 5:00 pm and then finish a busy weekend against Georgetown tomorrow at 1:00 pm.