CEDAR FALLS -- Creighton pulled out to an early five-point lead in the fifth set and held off Northern Iowa Friday night to wrap up the first day of the UNI Invitational at the McLeod Center.
Set scores were 19-25, 25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 15-11.
UNI closed out the opening set with an 8-3 run as Kate Busswitz delivered three of her five kills down the stretch.
The Panthers then started set two with a 5-0 lead, but the 23rd-ranked Bluejays fought back to take a 9-8 lead. A 6-1 surge led to a 19-14 Creighton advantage and UNI couldn't get any closer than two points the rest of the way.
UNI built a five-point cushion in the third set at 13-8, but the Bluejays charged back again for another 25-22 victory.
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Set four was back and forth early before the Panthers surged in front 19-13 and closed out the 25-18 triumph to force the deciding fifth set where Creighton jumped ahead 6-1 and never let UNI any closer than two points.
Karlie Taylor finished with 29 kills for the Panthers, and Kate Busswitz added 19. Rachel Koop had 49 assists and Baylee Petersen led five UNI players in double-digit digs with 19.
In earlier matches Friday, Creighton upended 12th-ranked Kentucky 25-23, 20-25, 25-21, 25-22 behind a 20-kill. .655 efficiency performance by Naomi Hickman.
Kentucky bounced back to defeat No. 15 USC 25-18, 25-22, 24-26, 25-19. Leah Edmond led four Wildcats in double-figure kills with 17.
UNI is back in action Saturday when it hosts USC at 10:30 a.m. and Kentucky at 7:30 p.m.