Principia Wears Down Red Devils in Four

Photo courtesy of Josh Jackson.
Photo courtesy of Josh Jackson.

EUREKA, Ill. -- The Eureka College volleyball team erased an eight-point deficit and came from behind for a game-two victory in Friday's St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match against Principia, but the Panthers returned the favor with a big rally in game three and ultimately secured a 25-13, 27-29, 27-25, 25-18 league victory over the Red Devils at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.

The Panthers never trailed in game one, but held a slim 13-12 edge after an Anna Crank (Washburn, Ill./Midland H.S./Clarke) kill capped a quick 4-0 run for the Red Devils. Principia seized control from that point forward, answering with a Sophia Hathaway kill to trigger a 12-1 surge to end the game. PC scored seven straight points to put the set away, including three consecutive service aces from Mia Gill to close the game with a 25-13 win.

Eureka started the second set much like it ended the first, stumbling to a 9-3 hole during service primarily from PC's Cha Cha Fisher. The Panthers' lead swelled to as large as 18-10 before EC rallied. Crank put down three straight kills to ignite the surge before Eureka finally pushed in front on more consecutive finishes from Crank. Eureka finally put the Panthers away, 29-27, on a Crank service ace to even the match at one game apiece.

The Red Devils maintained the momentum early in the third game, taking advantage of excellent service from Heather Robinson (Peoria, Ill./Limestone H.S.) for a 10-3 cushion. The Panthers slowly chipped away at their deficit from that point forward, pulling even at 22-22 on a Eureka attack error. A Hathaway kill and another EC hitting miscue allowed PC to grind out a 27-25 win.

Principia and Eureka were tied as late as 9-9 in game four before service from Hathaway proved too much for the hosts. PC scored 10 straight points, five of which came on Eureka attack errors, to claim a decisive 19-9 lead. Eureka was able to inch within six, 23-17, on a kill from Kary Langan (Lakewood, Ill./Shelbyville H.S.), but Hathaway's 18th and final kill of the night ended the match just shy of the two-hour mark.

Crank and Robinson logged double-doubles for the Red Devils. Crank finished with 18 kills and 21 digs, while Robinson collected 21 assists and 20 digs. Langan emerged to put down a career-high eight kills against only one error and Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.) tacked on seven kills. Sara Worrell (Jacksonville, Ill./Routt Catholic H.S.) distributed 24 of EC's 50 assists.

Hathaway shared match-high honors with Crank with 18 kills. The Red Devils were plagued by 13 Principia service aces, seven of which came from PC libero Mia Gill. Devon Marunde had 39 assists.

Eureka will have a little more than 12 hours to prepare for another busy day at the Reagan Athletic Complex. In all, five SLIAC teams will converge on Dave Darnall Court Saturday. The Red Devils will host Westminster at 11 a.m. and later host Greenville at 3 p.m.