Volleyball Sweeps Ole Miss in NCAA Tourney Opener

OMAHA, Neba. — Playing much of the match without senior captain and All-American Jaela Zimmermanfreshmen Norah Sis and Kendra Wait had double-doubles as the 20th-ranked and 14th seeded Creighton Volleyball team swept Ole Miss in the First Round of the 2021 NCAA Volleyball Tournament. Sis had 16 kills and 10 digs on .444 hitting while Wait owned 31 assists and 14 digs in their NCAA Tournament debuts.

Scores of the match were 25-21, 25-15, 25-13. The contest was the first NCAA Tournament trip since 2010 for Ole Miss (21-9), which is still seeking its first win in the postseason in four trips.

With the win, Creighton (31-3) advances to play Kansas (17-11) on Friday at 7 pm inside DJ Sokol Arena. The Jayhawks swept Oregon (25-19, 25-21, 25-22) in the first match of the day in Omaha. Creighton and Kansas will be meeting for the third time in the NCAA Tournament (all in the Second Round), as KU won in four sets in 2013 and before CU won a five-set thriller in 2016. Both of those matches happened in Lawrence.

Creighton never trailed in the first set, building leads of 4-1 and 12-7. The Rebels closed within 22-20 late before Naomi Hickman and Sis came up big with a block of Katie Corelli to force an Ole Miss timeout. Wait followed with an ace to get to set point, which CU converted on its second chance when Ole Miss sailed a serve long. Sis had four kills in five swings and Zimmerman pumped in five more to headline a Creighton attack that hit .423. Ole Miss hit .312 and had five kills from Anna Bair.

Zimmerman was red-hot to open the second set with five kills within CU’s first eight points. But Zimmerman would be blocked to end a long rally with CU leading 10-9 and did not return after being helped off the court by medical personnel. A shaken Bluejay squad would be aced on the subsequent point but regrouped to move ahead 15-12 at the media timeout after a thunderous back row kill from Sis. CU’s defense stepped up down the stretch as the Bluejays took a 2-0 lead on a kill from Davis that made it 25-15. Creighton had 29 digs in the second set, including eight from Wait and seven by Abby Bottomleyas the Rebels hit just .043 in the frame.

The Bluejays cruised to a 9-2 lead to begin the third set, which included the 50th ace of the season from Keeley Davis, and didn’t look back, much to the delight of the crowd of 2,351. Sis had six kills and three digs in the final and Bottomley had five more digs to move into a tie for eighth place in NCAA history with 2,694 career digs.

In addition to double-doubles by Wait (31 assists, 14 digs) and Sis 16 kills, 10 digs), Bottomley led all players with 15 digs and a pair of aces. Creighton had 46 kills, four aces, 49 digs and seven blocks on .358 hitting.

Ole Miss was led by 10 kills from Bair, while setter Kylee McLaughlin contributed 28 assists and 12 digs. The Rebels had 34 kills, three aces, 44 digs and three blocks on .148 hitting.

NOTES: Naomi Hickman set a DJ Sokol Arena record by playing in her 60th career match in the facility. Hickman also extended her program record by playing in her 116th career victory … Creighton appeared in its 10th straight NCAA Tournament, and 11th overall … The Bluejays are one of nine teams nationally to appear in each of the last nine NCAA Tournaments . .. Creighton improved to 12-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 9-2 mark in the First Round … Creighton won its 14th straight match, and leads the nation with 31 matches won and 96 sets won this season … Creighton improved to 12-0 inside DJ Sokol Arena this season, where it has won 18 straight matches … Creighton improved to 2-0 vs. Ole Miss and has won six straight contests against SEC competition … Kansas leads the all-time series against Creighton, 8-3, including a 3-1 mark in Omaha … Creighton has won 22 straight sets in a row, which trails only Florida (27) nationally … Ole Miss was the first at-large team to be a No. 4 seed since Oregon in 2015 … Ole Miss also owned the best RPI (54) of any No. 4 seeds … Keeley Davis served her league-leading 50th ace of the season, while Abby Bottomley’s 44 aces are seventh-most in CU single-season history. Davis now owns 98 aces in her career… Norah Sis’ 16 kills tied a CU-record for a three-set NCAA Tournament match, equaling the mark by Taryn Kloth on Nov. 30, 2018 vs. South Dakota … Naomi Hickman’s three solo blocks tied her own CU record for an NCAA Tournament match … Hickman is also CU’s first player to appear in five NCAA Tournaments.

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