Creighton volleyball has steamrolled the BIG EAST so far this season, posting a perfect 13-0 record in conference and boasting a #25 national ranking. Xavier is 9-4 in conference and entered Sunday on a 4-match win streak.
Early on Creighton took a 2-point lead in the first set. When you’re a severe underdog, as Xavier was coming into the match, a 2 point lead is tough to come back from. The set waned and waxed, Xavier tying it up at 7-a-piece at one point, yet a Jaali Winters kill quickly gained momentum back for the Jays.
From there it was a battle of attrition, with Creighton playing stellar defense and capitalizing on Xavier’s mistakes (at one point on a Creighton serve, the Musketeers were out of position, and were penalized a point because if it) while maintaining a steady diet of kills.
It seemed that Xavier was only able to make up a little ground off of Bluejay service errors, which can be a little demoralizing. That, and the relative inability to keep the ball in late in the set, giving Creighton three consecutive points on Xavier swings that ended up outside of the lines.
I thought about the giant ceiling fan at DJ Sokol arena for a while considering the demoralization of Xavier was inevitable just 20 minutes into the set.
I thought about how that ceiling fan would consume volleyballs like Jabba the Hut consumes, I don’t know, eggs I guess? It’d be something, surely. That fan would slice and dice volleyballs like a slap chop, sending volleyball shrapnel over the crowd like confetti. It might be a pretty big draw for fans of confetti, I guess. I’ll talk to a marketing expert about this.
1st Set - Creighton 25 - Xavier 16
Xavier started off the second set hot as my radiator when I forget to regularly fill it with antifreeze. With a 3-0 lead early on, it appeared that they had thrown the Jays off balance during the side change, probably by blinking a light to disrupt the central processors of the Bluejay players.
The lead only continued to grow for Xavier as they continued to score seemingly at will, mounting a five point lead at 7-2. Coach Booth decided to unplug her raucous machine, wait 10 seconds, and plug it back in with a timeout. Thinking that this would solve the defensive woes her squad, Booth sent her players back out only to surrender two consecutive points, their deficit growing to 9-2.
Fans of the volleys began to stir, vocalizing their disappointment in the match to that point.
Jaali Winters appeared to have no more of this nonsense and obliterated a volleyball to stop the bleeding. Her efforts seemed to boost the talents of Megan Ballenger as they combined for three kills in three tries, closing the gap to 9-5.
This was all the Jays needed to realize that their talents were far superior, continuing to scratch back and force Xavier to call customer support and fix their flaws as the score reached 10-8 in favor of the Musketeers.
The call worked, as Xavier came out of the timeout with two consecutive kills and an error, swelling their lead back to 5 at 13-8.
It became Xavier’s lead to protect, and Creighton was doing all it could to help with that. The Bluejays were in danger of losing a set for the first time since the inception of Stonehenge, and the sweat was visible with their shaken nerves. It’d been so long since they had a match last longer than 45 seconds, so their panic was to be expected. This was a path seldom taken for Creighton so far this conference season.
Xavier’s lead hovered around 5 for a good portion of this second set.
Creighton mounted a comeback in the later portions of the set, closing their deficit to 17-15. The crowd stirred, wondering if this rally was to be trusted. Xavier wisely utilized a timeout to settle down and figure out where they’d gone so wrong, to allow such dramatic events in a set they had packaged nicely. The doubt began to creep, slowly eating away at them.
The Jays closed the gap further. 17-16.
Xavier pushed back, 18-16.
Creighton pushed again, 18-17.
Xavier threw an elbow, 19-17.
The set became insatiable. How could someone fall under the guise that Creighton wouldn’t make a run? How stupid must that person be?
Creighton returns with a left hook, 19-18. Then an uppercut.
Tie ballgame, 19 a piece. The crowd roared with the lusty exuberance normally saved for a fight to the death cagematch.
A Bluejay block, uncontested, Bluejays captured the lead at 20-19.
Then, a service error. All knotted at 20.
Bluejays recapture the lead at 21-20.
Another service error, tied again at 21-21.
Xavier scratches back, taking the lead on a poor block by Dimke and Smith, 22-21 Musketeers.
Jaali Winters began to tire of this close affair, blowing a spike by every volleyballer in navy blue. Tied at 22.
Taryn Kloth was also tired of this nonsense, sending a kill into the heart of the Musketeer formation. 23-22, Jays.
Bluejays then get another kill, 24-22. Match point.
Musketeers answer with a kill of their own, now a 24-23 affair.
Taryn Kloth, playing to the crowd, delivered an absolutely delicious spike into the volleyball ether, scoring the match point and delivering a set win for Creighton. Incredible. You can’t kill these Jays even if you set ‘em in front of a firing squad.
2nd Set - Creighton 25 - Xavier 23
The third set began with a great sense of urgency for the fans, who were a bit nonplussed at the Musketeer’s performance in the second set. I heard a group of fans having individual existential crises, wondering if life was really all it appeared to be. The puzzled expressions and nervous tears would cause even the steeliest of journalists to breakdown in a panic; alas, I have become so desensitized to drama due to days long marathons of TNT I was safe from such a meltdown.
By the time I had regrouped from my general observations of the strangers surrounding the volleys court, Creighton had built a 5-4 lead in the third set.
There have now been two challenges since I typed the sentence before this one. During these delays my eyes glazed over and I may have fallen unconscious for a while. I dreamed of a world where volleyball existed as a replacement for war; an arms race where the Dutch exist as supreme rulers of the world, their length and athleticism unmatched by every nation on the planet. The Kiwis and Aussies would finally get along as they would own a good portion of the Asian continent.
When I awoke the Bluejays had a 6 point lead at 15-9. They eventually won 25-21. It was over. The sweep was finalized, even moreso, the weekend sweep was complete. The Bluejays were now 14-0 in conference and there wasn’t a team in conference that could stop their tour of mass destruction.
I returned to my fantasy world where bombs were replaced by volleyballs and army fatigues were replaced by spandex shorts and long sleeved shirts. This is a better, more efficient world.
3rd Set - Creighton - 25 Xavier - 21