Big East teams successful in NCAA Tournaments

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Jaali Winters has been a staple of Creighton volleyball’s offense, averaging more than four kills per set. Photo via Twitter/CreightonVB

Fall sports ended for the Piratesjust under two weeks ago when the Seton Hall women’s volleyball team terminated a resilient late-season run, losing to Creighton in the Big East Tournament semifinal, three sets to none. For both SHU soccer sides, it has been just over a month since the season closed.

Despite the absence of Pirates, various Big East fall sports teams found postseason success.

In volleyball, Creighton was the sole Big East team to reach the NCAA Tournament. The Bluejays had finished a remarkable 18-0 in conference play and captured a Big East championship. Despite this however, the Bluejays entered the NCAA Tournament as a nine-seed, unranked in the AP Top 25.

A win over Northern Iowa in the first round set Creighton up for a heavyweight Kansas-Nebraska tilt on Friday, Dec. 2, with the Bluejays traveling to Lawrence, Kan. to face the one-seeded and No. 5 overall Jayhawks.

The Bluejays overcame the talented Jayhawks, pulling off a stunning upset, three sets to two. Lydia Dimke, who led the Big East with 11.4 assists per set, put up a breathtaking 56 assists, while Jaali Winters played a pivotal role with 23 kills.

Having entered the final 16, the site for the third and fourth round games are decided by the highest seed remaining in each side of the bracket. For Creighton, that means traveling to Austin, Texas, where the two-seed and No. 4 ranked Longhorns await. Creighton will have to overcome a four-seed and No. 12 Michigan team before the Longhorns, though.

Despite a smaller tournament field of 48, men’s soccer proved to be the sport in which the conference was best represented in the NCAA Tournament, with Butler, Creighton and Providence all making the cut.

Instead of the formerly higly ranked Bulldogs, it was Providence that conquered. The Friars defeating Delaware 2-0 before pulling off a jaw-dropping 5-4 victory over a No. 1 ranked Maryland team. The Friars then defeated Creighton, ending the Bluejays’ own magical run and setting up a contest Friday, Dec. 2 against three-seeded and No. 9 UNC.

Providence left it all on the field in Chapel Hill, battling through regulation and a 10-minute overtime period. Still scoreless going into the second overtime, the next goal would send one team to the College Cup. It was a Heartbreaker for the Friars, as UNC managed to score in the 101st minute, ending the Friars’ run.

On the women’s side, Georgetown was able to go one step farther than Providence’s men’s team. The Hoyas entered the tournament as a two-seed, and, thanks to an upset of one-seeded Stanford, the road to the College Cup would go through Washington. The Hoyas would use home field advantage to win 2-0 against St. Francis, Rutgers and three-seeded Virginia before overcoming their toughest test in Santa Clara, which upset Stanford.

Booking a ticket to the College Cup, the Hoyas traveled to San Jose, Calif. for their national semifinal match against fellow two-seed and No. 7 USC Friday, Dec 2. The Hoyas outshot the Trojans nine to six and recorded two shots on goal to the Trojans’ one; although it was that one for the Trojans which proved to decide the contest. USC prevailed 1-0, and later on captured the College Cup championship with a 3-1 victory over one-seeded West Virginia.

While fall sports may seem far in the rearview mirror for SHU, Providence men’s soccer and Georgetown women’s soccer tied a bow on impressive seasons. And still, one more program in Creighton volleyball is standing, undeterred by heavy opposition, and ready to keep on dancing.

James Justice can be reached at james.justice@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @JamesJusticeIII.

Author: James Justice

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