GALESBURG, Ill. – The Eureka College volleyball team forced a decisive fifth game after falling behind early Tuesday night at Knox, but the host Prairie Fire ultimately edged the Red Devils in a 25-12, 25-20, 23-25, 18-25, 17-15 final in Galesburg, Ill. EC senior Anna Crank (Washburn, Ill./Midland H.S./Clarke) had a match-high 22 kills in the loss.
Eureka led by as many as three points in the decisive fifth set after a kill by senior Beth Mickna (Deer Creek, Ill./Dee-Mack H.S.) gave the Red Devils a 7-4 lead. Knox eventually pulled even at 9-9, one of seven tied scores in the abbreviated frame. A Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.) kill in the face of match point pulled the Red Devils even at 15-15, but back-to-back EC errors allowed the hosts to escape with a 17-15 win.
The Red Devils sputtered to a slow start, hitting just -.056 as a team in the game-one loss. In game two, Eureka trailed by as little as two (20-18) late in the frame, but the hosts scored five of the last seven points before clinching a two-games-to-none lead on a kill from Kyleigh Guthals.
The momentum changed in game three. Behind strong service from Mickna and senior Meagan Hanney (Sherman, Ill./Williamsville H.S.), Eureka raced to an 11-3 lead. The Prairie Fire came back to regain a 19-18 edge following a Eureka attack error, but the Red Devils recovered with a kill from Hanney to trigger a 7-4 burst to close the set. Dooley's kill clinched the 25-23 win.
Eureka never trailed in game four and led by as many as seven points on three different occasions. Another kill by Dooley capped a 10-3 surge to begin the set. The Red Devils committed only two attack errors in the fourth game and finished the stanza with a .267 hitting percentage.
The Red Devils recorded 59 kills Tuesday, their highest total against a Division III opponent since putting down 60 versus Principia on Sept. 30, 2016. Crank had 22 kills and Dooley tacked on 13. Hanney finished with 23 assists and 15 digs for a double-double. Junior Heather Robinson (Peoria, Ill./Limestone H.S.) also logged a double-double with a team-high 25 assists and 20 digs. Five different Red Devils reached double figures in digs, led by 25 from junior libero Jordan Detmers (Hartsburg, Ill./Hartsburg-Emden H.S.).
The busy stretch to the start of the 2017 season continues for the Red Devils Wednesday in their St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener at defending league champion Greenville at 7 p.m. The contest against the Panthers has been moved to Greenville Junior High School due to floor resurfacing inside GU's H.J. Long Gymnasium.