Notebook: Red Devils Wrap Up Road Stretch With Non-Conference Trips

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
EUREKA -- The Eureka College volleyball team will wrap up a season-long eight-match stretch away from home this week with a pair of non-conference road trips. The Red Devils will visit longtime non-conference rival Lincoln Christian Tuesday at 7 p.m. before visiting former league foe Benedictine Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Eureka will begin the week with Tuesday night's match at Lincoln Christian. The NAIA Red Lions are 4-15 this season, but have won three of their four matches since last Friday, all on their home court.
LCU has played five matches against NCAA Division III opponents this season and earned its lone D-III victory in a four-set triumph over Monmouth last Saturday. The Red Lions have lost both of their matches against SLIAC opponents, falling in four games to Principia on Sept. 1 and taking MacMurray to five games before succumbing to the Highlanders on Sept. 13 in Jacksonville.
Bobbi Jean Geosling is in her second season as head coach at Lincoln Christian. The 2006 Maranatha Baptist graduate piloted LCU to 17 wins and a bid to the NAIA Tournament last season.
Eureka and Lincoln Christian have met 33 times since 1997, a stretch in which LCU owns a 26-7 record in the series. The Red Lions have won 19 in a row over the Red Devils since September 2008, including a pair of four-set victories last season.
The Red Devils will face a quick turnaround and another in-state road trip Wednesday when EC visits Benedictine for a 7 p.m. non-conference start in Lisle, Ill.
The Eagles are 7-6 through the season's first 13 matches and will host Marian (Wis.) Tuesday before the Red Devils visit the Dan and Ada Rice Center on Wednesday. BU has played three SLIAC schools this fall, the only three teams to have won a SLIAC regular-season or tournament championship since 2006 -- Webster, Westminster and Greenville. The Eagles downed Westminster in five games on Aug. 31, lost to Webster in five games later that day and lost to Greenville in five games on Sept. 21.
Jennifer Wildes, a 2002 graduate of Benedictine and one of the institution's most decorated female student-athletes, is in her 14th season directing the Eagles. She owns a 241-202 record and has guided BU to two Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference regular-season championships (2009, 2012) and two NACC Tournament crowns (2006, 2012). As a student-athlete, Wildes was a three-time conference player of the year in volleyball and also won the award once in women's basketball.
Benedictine has been a thorn in Eureka's side for the better part of two decades, taking 20 of 21 matches from the Red Devils since 1997. The two squads, who competed as rivals in the now-defunct Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference from 1996 until 2005, met as recently as September 2016, a four-set BU victory at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
The Red Devils played three times away from home last week against St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponents.
Webster def. Eureka, 25-16, 25-19, 23-25, 25-13
Eureka rallied late in game three to extend last Tuesday's SLIAC match at Webster, but the Gorloks staved off the Red Devils' late-match push to lock down a league win in St. Louis, Mo.
Heather Robinson attacked a .200 clip as part of a 13-kill effort to lead the visitors' attack. Lexi Dooley tacked on nine kills to go along with a career-high 36 digs and Katlyn Arrenholz compiled EC's only double-double with 18 digs and 13 assists.
McKenna Cleer had both of the Red Devils' service aces and Sara Worrell led the team with 21 assists..
Westminster def. Eureka, 17-25, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23, 15-10
Runa Akagawa collected a career-high 16 kills in last Saturday's neutral-site quad opener against Westminster. She also compiled a personal-best 17 digs to log her third double-double in her last four outings. Dooley also earned a double-double in the five-set loss, producing 10 kills and 26 digs.
Arrenholz led EC with 20 assists, while Cleer had team-highs of 28 digs and three service aces. Caitlin Miller had five total blocks.
Eureka def. Fontbonne, 25-14, 25-21, 25-22
Eureka secured its second SLIAC victory of the season in a neutral-site sweep of Fontbonne last Saturday afternoon.
Robinson and Dooley shared the team lead with 11 kills. The Red Devils committed only 11 attack errors as a team on their way to a .278 hitting percentage, their highest mark in a match since hitting .328 against Rockford on Sept. 1.
Worrell distributed a team-best 17 assists in her hometown while Arrenholz tacked on 15.