GREENVILLE, Ill. – The Eureka College volleyball team took its best shot in Wednesday's St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener against seven-time defending league champion Greenville, but the host Panthers withstood the repeated charges from the visitors and scratched out a 25-21, 32-30, 25-21 conference victory over the Red Devils.
Eureka never led in game one, but used a 6-1 run behind service from Bayley Driskell (Pekin, Ill./Pekin H.S.) to turn an eight-point deficit into a two-point game (21-19) late in the set. The Eureka deficit was two as late as 23-21 after a kill by senior Anna Crank (Washburn, Ill./Midland H.S./Clarke), but the Panthers held on for a 25-21 win.
The second game saw 11 tied scores, four lead changes and a 10-point swing that included advantages as large as five points for both teams. An Abby Freeman kill opened up a 14-9 lead for GU, but the visitors answered with a 9-0 run on service from Jordan Detmers (Hartsburg, Ill./Hartsburg-Emden H.S.) to snag an 18-14 advantage. Crank had three of EC's four kills during the blitz, as the Red Devils also took advantage of three Greenville attack errors and an ace from Detmers.
Facing a 20-15 deficit, Greenville eventually pulled even at 21-21. Eureka ultimately staved off match point to force a 25-25 deadlock. The Red Devils went on to serve game point four different times and held the lead as late as 30-29, but an Allyson Mitchell kill and back-to-back EC errors helped the hosts score three straight points and rally for a 32-30 win.
Neither side led by more than four points in a tightly contested third game. GU nearly put the game out of reach after Anna Finch's kill extended the hosts' lead to 17-14, but EC fired back after a timeout by scoring six of the next point to pull even at 20-20 after a kill from Heather Robinson (Peoria, Ill./Limestone H.S.).
The Panthers regained a 21-20 edge on a Eureka attack error and scored five of the last six points to put the Red Devils away.
Crank paced Eureka with 15 kills. Meagan Hanney (Sherman, Ill./Williamsville H.S.) logged her second double-double in as many nights with 19 assists and 12 digs. Robinson tacked on 11 assists.
Eureka will look for its first victory of the season this Saturday in a pair of league contests in St. Louis. The Red Devils will visit longtime SLIAC power Webster at 11 a.m. before a 1 p.m. match with Blackburn.