Webster Holds Off Red Devils in Four

Photo courtesy of Adria Slater.
Photo courtesy of Adria Slater.

EUREKA, Ill. – The Eureka College volleyball team went toe-to-toe with nine-time St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion and current league leader Webster for nearly two hours Tuesday night at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena, but the visiting Gorloks held off EC's push for a 25-20, 25-16, 22-25, 25-19 conference win over the Red Devils.

Eureka's 7-4 lead was the largest for either team for a major portion of game one that featured nine tied scores. The Red Devils ultimately held a 20-18 lead before a Webster timeout triggered WU's 7-0 run to close the set. Rachel Mencel's kill forced a 20-20 tie, Maria Soffner's service ace pushed the Gorloks to a 21-20 lead and four straight Eureka errors allowed the visitors to win game one, 25-20.

Webster raced to a 14-6 lead in game two behind service from Mencel and Ashley Robinson. A kill from reigning SLIAC Offensive Player of the Week Anna Crank (Washburn, Ill./Midland H.S./Clarke) helped slow Webster's momentum and pulled the Red Devils within 17-14 midway through the frame, but the Gorloks closed the game by scoring eight of the next 10 points for a 25-16 win.

Neither team was able to create much separation throughout game three. Sarah Jacobs' kill gave the Gorloks their largest lead of the set, 8-5, but the hosts responded with eight of next 11 points to snag a 13-11 advantage. Webster pulled even as late as 19-19 on a Eureka attack error, but the Red Devils didn't trail again and stretched their lead to as large as four when a kill from Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.) gave EC a 23-19 cushion.

WU had one final push in game three behind kills from Mencel and Kelsey Hamman, but Dooley's kill made it 24-22 and a block assist from Crank and Caitlin Miller (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) clinched Eureka's first set win over the Gorloks in 24 matches between the two schools since becoming SLIAC rivals in 2006.

The visitors never trailed in the fourth game. Eureka responded to a 15-10 deficit with a 5-2 burst to pull within 17-15, but the run wouldn't be enough to close the gap. Back-to-back kills by Hamman and Torie Grassi clinched the 25-19 victory and match win for Webster.

Crank logged a double-double for the hosts with 11 kills and 16 digs. Sara Worrell (Jacksonville, Ill./Routt Catholic H.S.) distributed a team-high 14 assists and matched a career high with 11 digs for a double-double. Dooley reached double figures with 10 kills while Heather Robinson (Peoria, Ill./Limestone H.S.) and McKenzie Reiners (Milford, Ill./Milford H.S.) shared the team lead with four total blocks apiece.

Eureka will continue its season-long five-match homestand Friday at 7 p.m. against Principia at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.