Cyclones fall to Creighton in NCAA Opening Game

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Libero Ashley Mass dives for the ball Friday night during the NCAA opening round at Minneapolis Sports Pavilion. During Mass’ final game, she posted 35 digs, a season high, and is the Big 12 all time career digs leader. The Cyclones lost in the first round to Creighton University.

Dan Tracy

Entering their fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament, Iowa State boasted the experience of a program that has made deep runs into the post-season. However, for the first time in program history, its run ended on the first night of the tournament.

Making their first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Creighton Bluejays picked up their biggest win in program history with a five-set, 3-2 (27-25, 16-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-11) victory over the Cyclones. The five-setter marked only the second time that Iowa State had the gone the distance this season, while the Bluejays were playing in their fifth five-setter of the year.

Creighton started the match looking like the more experienced squad as they jumped out to a 9-4 lead. The Cyclones would battle back to take the lead at 16-15 but Creighton would not go away as they fought back to win the first set 27-25.

Senior outside hitter Alicia Runge led the Bluejays with six kills in the first as senior outside hitter Victoria Henson paced the Cyclones with seven. The Bluejays controlled the net in the first set, outblocking the Cyclones five to one.

After hitting a mere .245 in the first set, Iowa State blazed out to a .447 hitting percentage with no attack errors as the Cyclones evened things up for intermission with a 25-16 win in the second. Henson notched another five kills and sophomore middle blocker Jamie Straube pitched in with four.

Averaging just under twelve assists per set on the season, sophomore setter Alison Landwehr entered the third set already with 31 assists.

Although Iowa State had the momentum heading into the locker room, Creighton exited it motivated and ready to take back the lead. The Bluejays leaned on Swea City, Iowa native Alicia Runge as she swung for five kills in a 25-23 victory in the third.

Iowa State was able to capitalize on some poor hitting by Creighton in the fourth set as the Cyclones outhit the Bluejays .262 to .083 en route to a 25-19 win for the Cyclones.

In the final set, both teams were all square at six apiece until Creighton subbed in Runge. Runge scored four of the next nine points for the Bluejays and Laurel Sanford put home the final kill as the Bluejays celebrated with a 15-11 final set win.

Leading the Cyclones offensively was Henson who finished with a season-high 26 kills in her final match as a Cyclone. Also playing for the last time for Iowa State was senior libero Ashley Mass. She finished the night with a match-high 35 digs.

ISU sophomore setter Alison Landwehr finished with a career-high in assists with 62 and junior outside hitter Carly Jenson finished with a double-double as she ended with 17 kills and 21 digs.

Creighton ‘s Alicia Runge and Karisa Almgren led the Bluejays in their first NCAA Tournament victory as Runge notched 17 kills and Almgren hit for 14 kills on a .324 clip. Creighton sophomore setter Megan Bober, an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection, picked up a double-double with 46 assists and 11 digs.

Iowa State finishes its season 20-9 while Creighton will move on to play the winner of the North Dakota State-Minnesota match which will be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Match time for tomorrow is set for 6 p.m.

For more coverage on Friday’s match, check iowastatedaily.com throughout the weekend.