Over the years since Creighton volleyball was reinstated in 1994, the Bluejays have played national power Nebraska under a lot of different circumstances. They played at the Nebraska Colliseum, they played at the Qwest Center, and they played at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. They even played each other out in North Platte, to satisfy Husker volleyball fans in that part of the state. But Tuesday night, for the first time in school history, Creighton gets Big Red on a true home court — Sokol Arena. Players and coaches alike are excited about the opportunity.
“I love playing Nebraska at the Qwest Center. I would love to play them annually at the Qwest Center, kind of like baseball does at Rosenblatt, but this is our host year and we want the opportunity to showcase the facility,” CU head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said. “(John) Cook was excited about playing here and it has always been our mission to show that there is great volleyball throughout the state. What is cool is that we will have a lot of blue instead of red.”
Nebraska comes into the game against the Bluejays with a big red chip on its shoulder, and that may not be a good thing for Creighton. The Huskers are coming off a loss in the AVCA Showcase to #14 Florida, likely costing the Big Red its #2 ranking.
The Bluejays also didn’t finish their weekend the way they wanted to. Creighton went 1-2 in their hosted Bluejay Invitational, losing their last two games without middle blocker Laurel Sanford. With Lauren Bloemke already out for the season (knee), Sanford injured her ankle Friday night against San Francisco and was not able to play the rest of the weekend. It is still unknown whether she will be able to play Tuesday night, leaving the Bluejays with sophomore Heather Thorson and freshman Savannah Smith to try and hold off the spiking abilities of the Huskers. This will be a tough task. But being the home team can bring some extra energy to this team that Sanford is excited about;
“I’m extremely pumped because with the atmosphere, it is just so much closer than the Qwest, although the Qwest is bigger and it is a fun atmosphere. But just seeing our home court advantage is just ten times better than at the Qwest.”
As in the other sports in which they meet, Creighton and Nebraska share a rivalry that is important to both fans and players — whether all fans want to admit one exists, or not. Bragging rights are always at stake. Creighton setter Megan Bober has a sister, Nikki, who played for the Husker basketball team. Even though they play different sports, there is still a bit of rivalry between the two siblings. Megan likes that this year’s game is at Sokol, too.
“She was in a different sport, so that helps,” Megan says, “but we are pumped to have the game here this year. It’s going to be a totally different atmosphere, we expect to play in a packed place and it will be an exciting game to have them play on our actual home court.”
Sokol Arena is sold out, and the lingering question remains: will it be a packed house full of White and Blue or Big Red? There was some speculation that Nebraska fans were purchasing Creighton volleyball season tickets so they would get a ticket to this game. At the same time, Creighton season ticketholders had first crack at remaining tickets to the game before they went on sale to the public. Either way, the game is sold out.
Creighton is 0-10 against Nebraska all-time. Will the Bluejays be able to crack the win column against the perennial power Tuesday night?
If you do not have a ticket to Sokol Arena, don’t worry. Join WBR: Live Tuesday night for a running blog of all the action between Creighton and Nebraska. You can get all the updates from the game, and even participate in the discussion.