Creighton fought to overcome a 2-0 intermission deficit and force a fifth set, before falling to Kansas 15-13 in the fifth set on Wednesday night in Lawrence. Scores of the match in favor of the host Jayhawks were 27-25, 25-21, 21-25, 19-25, 15-13. Creighton had its six-match win streak halted while falling to 10-2 on the year, while Kansas improved to 12-2 on the year and earned coach Ray Bechard his 950th career victory.
Creighton was paced by 15 kills and 11 blocks from sophomore Kelli Browning, her third double-double of the season. Leah McNary and Heather Thorson each had 14 kills for the Jays, while Kate Elman (21 digs) and Melanie Jereb (20 digs) paced the defense. Creighton had 62 kills, 78 digs and 20 blocks on .221 hitting, but were held without an ace for the first time in 2012.
Caroline Jarmoc had four of her career-best 22 kills in the final set to lead Kansas, five more than her previous high. Omaha native Sara McClinton had 17 kills for KU in a match-best 62 attack attempts. Tiana Dockery had a career-best 15 kills and 15 digs, Erin McNorton had a career-high 67 assists, while Brianne Riley had a season-best 33 digs. Kansas had 76 kills, four aces, 97 digs and 10 blocks while hitting .167.
Creighton lost a hard-fought first set, as Kansas saved two set points before rallying for a 27-25 decision. The set featured 15 ties and five lead changes before KU prevailed. After CU took a 20-19 lead on a Megan Bober kill, the teams would exchange 11 consecutive sideouts. The Jays had their chances at 24-23 and 25-24 after a pair of Thorson kills, but KU rallied with kills from Tayler Tolefree, Dockery and Jarmoc for the clincher. Creighton hit .349 in the opening set, as the combination of McNary, Jereb and Thorson had 14 errorless kills in the frame. KU was paced by five kills in as many swings by Dockery.
Kansas won a second set featuring eight ties and eight lead changes despite a flurry of errors. Creighton took an 11-8 lead as KU had nine early attack errors, but the Jayhawks rebounded to score the next four points and take a 12-11 lead. KU took the lead for good at 14-13 on a double-block by Tolefree and McNorton, then pulled away late for the 25-21 decision. Jarmoc and Dockery each had six of KU’s 20 kills in the set, while the Jays got three kills each from Thorson and Bober in the frame.
Creighton never trailed en route to winning the third set by a 25-21 margin. CU soared to a 5-1 lead early on, only to see KU answer and knot the score at seven. Creighton built an 11-7 lead and would hold on as KU steadily fought back to within one on two occasions, but the Jays got a big kill from Browning to make it 22-19 and won it at 25-21 on a double-clock from McNary and Thorson. Browning had five kills and three stuffs in the set.
Creighton won the fourth set 25-19, as an early 5-0 run pushed the margin to 7-3 and they never looked back. KU got as close as 16-14, but CU came out of a timeout with a 6-0 run on Bober’s serve to force the decisive fifth set.
The fifth set saw Creighton staked to an early 2-1 lead, but Kansas answered with a 3-0 run to go up 4-2 and would extend that lead to 7-4, forcing a Bluejay timeout. Creighton clawed back to tie the score at 9-all on a Browning block. Kansas scored the next three points to move ahead 12-9, but the Jays scored the next two and force a KU timeout. Jarmoc responded with a kill, only to have Bober answer with a kill. Leading 13-12, McClinton ended a long rally with a kill to get the Jayhawks to match point. The Jays got a Browning kill to extend the match before Tolefree’s kill up the middle ended the tightly-contested match that featured 31 ties and 17 lead changes.
The loss ended Creighton’s attempt for its first win after facing a 0-2 deficit since 2007. Creighton returns to MVC action this Saturday when it hosts Drake in a 5 pm match at D.J. Sokol Arena.