Preview: Red Devils Return Home Tuesday

Preview: Red Devils Return Home Tuesday
EUREKA, Ill. -- Following a seven-match stretch away from home that included three mid-week bus rides and trips to St. Louis in consecutive weekends, the Eureka College volleyball team will return to Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena Tuesday for a 7 p.m. matchup with St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Iowa Wesleyan.
The Red Devils will follow their match with the Tigers with a 7 p.m. non-conference trip to NAIA Lincoln Christian on Thursday in Lincoln, Ill.
Eureka won the first two games of last Tuesday's non-conference match at Monmouth, but the host Fighting Scots withstood a huge EC rally in game three and overcame an early deficit of their own in the decisive fifth game to beat the Red Devils, 25-27, 20-25, 26-24, 25-22, 15-11 at Glennie Gymnasium in Monmouth, Ill.
On Saturday, Eureka rallied from two sets down to secure a 21-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-12, 15-9 SLIAC victory over Spalding on the campus of Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Mo. The Red Devils' win over SU ended a 16-match streak of defeats that dated back to the Golden Eagles' entry into the SLIAC in 2009. It also represented Eureka's first victory when trailing two-sets-to-none since a five-game win at Blackburn on Sept. 30, 2014.
Eureka totaled 22 kills against just one error on 46 attempts over the final two sets of the match. Anna Crank put down a match-high 18 kills, followed by 13 from Heather Robinson. Four different Red Devils reached double figures in digs, led by Crank with 17. Sara Worrell came off the bench for a career-high 18 assists and added 11 digs for her first collegiate double-double.
The Red Devils dropped Saturday's opener to host Fontbonne, 28-26, 25-27, 25-14, 25-23.
Crank had 17 kills in the early match, followed by 10 apiece from Robinson and Beth Mickna. Crank (17 kills, 12 digs) and Robinson (10 kills, 13 assists) totaled double-doubles. Bayley Driskell compiled 17 of EC's 61 digs and Meagan Hanney distributed a season-high 28 assists.
In three matches last week, senior outside hitter Anna Crank put down 54 kills with a .244 attack percentage. She added 45 digs and six total blocks. Junior setter Heather Robinson added 33 kills, 37 assists and 30 digs. Senior Beth Mickna attacked at a team-high .286, senior Meagan Hanney distributed 63 assists and freshman Caitlin Miller exploded for 17 total blocks, including a 10-block effort at Monmouth last Tuesday.
On the year, Crank leads the Red Devils and ranks second in the SLIAC with 3.68 kills per set. Her 114 total kills ranks fifth among all league hitters and her .196 hitting percentage ranks ninth. Miller ranks fifth in the league with 20 block assists and Hanney's 133 assists are ninth-most in the SLIAC.
With 36 assists Saturday, including a season-high 28 in the early match against Fontbonne, senior setter Meagan Hanney increased her career assists total to 1,184 and moved in front of Jamie While for seventh place on the Red Devils' all-time list.
Hanney's career average of 4.29 assists per set will likely allow her to reach as high as sixth on the list. Mandy Zeien (1998-00) owns the all-time program record with 2,741 career assists.
Eureka will play its first home match in 15 days when the Red Devils welcome Iowa Wesleyan Tuesday for a 7 p.m. SLIAC tilt. The Tigers are 1-7 overall and 1-4 in league action, earning their lone victory of the campaign in four games at MacMurray on Sept. 9.
IWU ranks last in the 10-team SLIAC with an .032 hitting percentage and 7.92 kills per set. The Tigers also rank seventh in blocks per set (0.92), ninth in assists per set (7.31) and ninth in service aces per set (0.88).
BJ Wagy became the volleyball coach at IWU prior to the 2004 season. She is a 2011 graduate of Iowa Wesleyan. Wagy holds the IWU career record for solo blocks with 241 and is second all-time in total blocks with 439.  She ended her career with 1,000 kills, fifth-most in school history. 
Iowa Wesleyan won five of the first six meetings with the Red Devils after joining the SLIAC prior to the 2013 season, but Eureka bounced back to sweep last season's home-and-home series. Eureka is 4-10 against the Tigers since 1998 and will be looking for its first-ever three-game win streak in the series on Tuesday.
The Red Devils will return to the road Thursday at 7 p.m. against longtime non-conference foe Lincoln Christian at LCU's Laughlin Center. The Red Lions will enter the week with a 6-10 overall record and will visit Lindenwood (Ill.) on Tuesday before hosting EC on Thursday.  LCU has dropped six straight matches since Sept. 9.
LCU has played eight of its first 16 matches against NCAA Division III opponents, putting up a 4-4 record in that stretch. The Red Lions own wins over SLIAC opponents Blackburn and Iowa Wesleyan, but have lost twice to Principia. LCU also owns a four-set win over Monmouth, a common opponent with EC.
Lincoln Christian owns a team hitting percentage of .130. The Red Lions put down 11.25 kills per set, led by 175 total kills from senior Kristina Nichols.
Bobbi Jean Geosling is in her first season as head coach at Lincoln Christian. Geosling played four years of collegiate volleyball at Maranatha Baptist, helping take the Sabercats to the NCCAA national tournament during her senior season in 2005. Geosling graduated from MBU in 2006. Prior to her appointment at Lincoln Christian, Geosling had served as a voluntary practice assistant with the volleyball program at Northern Illinois (2014-2015) as well as the head coaching position at Clinton Rosette Middle School (2015-2016).
Eureka will try to put an end to a stretch of 17 consecutive defeats to LCU on Thursday. The Red Devils' last victory in the series was a five-game win in Lincoln on Oct. 23, 2007. EC owns a 7-24 record in its last 24 matchups with the Red Lions since 1997.