EUREKA, Ill. -- Eureka College senior Anna Crank (Washburn, Ill./Midland H.S./Clarke) shared match-high honors with 13 kills against only two errors and freshman Sara Worrell (Jacksonville, Ill./Routt Catholic H.S.) distributed 21 of the Red Devils' 41 assists, but visiting Lincoln Christian took charge late to secure a 25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 25-17 non-conference win over the Red Devils, Thursday night at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
Eureka appeared to have the first game under control after Crank's kill extended the EC lead to 16-10, but LCU responded with a kill from Maliah Feller-Blakemore to ignite a 15-4 burst to end the set. The Red Lions pulled even, 19-19, on a Eureka ball-handling error and grabbed a 20-19 lead on another Feller-Blakemore kill. Feller-Blakemore closed out the set with a service ace for a 25-20 LCU win.
The Red Devils used another quick start in game two. Crank's service ace allowed the hosts to double up the Red Lions early, 6-3. LCU recovered and ultimately held the set's largest advantage, 16-12, before three consecutive LCU attack errors and another Crank kill evened the set at 16-16.
A block assist from Crank and Kary Langan (Lakewood, Ill./Shelbyville H.S.) pushed the hosts in front, 17-16, and the Red Devils wouldn't trail again in game two. An EC attack error allowed the visitors to pull even, 21-21, but the Red Devils took advantage of an LCU service error on the ensuing play and ultimately snagged a 25-22 win on a kill by Meagan Hanney (Sherman, Ill./Williamsville H.S.).
LCU trailed only once in the third game. Kristina Nichols broke a 9-9 tie with a kill to help the Red Lions start to create separation. The Red Devils pulled within three as late as 21-18 on another Hanney kill, but LCU closed out a 25-21 on Hannah Pritchett's kill.
The Red Lions owned a slim 7-6 lead in game four before going on a 11-3 surge for a commanding 18-9 cushion. Three straight Eureka points, highlighted by a Langan kill, helped EC narrow the deficit to 23-17, but the run was too little, too late in LCU's 25-17 set win.
Crank finished Thursday's match with a .324 hitting percentage and 13 kills on 24 attempts. Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.) and Heather Robinson (Peoria, Ill./Limestone H.S.) tacked on eight kills each. McKenna Cleer (Havana, Ill./Havana H.S.) contributed a team-high 11 digs and Langan had three of the Red Devils' eight block assists.
Nichols matched Crank with 13 kills. Katie Dial logged 10. Feller-Blakemore led all players with 28 assists and Melissa Swartz registered three service aces.
Eureka will play a pair of St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matches Saturday in Elsah, Ill. The Red Devils will visit host Principia at 11 a.m. before taking on MacMurray in a 1 p.m. neutral-site matchup.