EUREKA — The Eureka volleyball team has been on the precipice of breaking through so many times this spring.
On Wednesday, the Red Devils finally got over the hump and earned their first win of the season in a five-set thriller over Iowa Wesleyan at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.
The Red Devils did it after dropping the first set, coming back strong and winning Set 2, pulling off a comeback and winning in extra points in Set 3, falling short in Set 4 and ultimately persevering in the fifth and final set. The final score was 17-25, 25-14, 26-24, 15-25, 15-11.
"With everything that hasn't gone our way this year, it's high time something did," EC coach Nick Mackall said. "To see kids really dig in, believe in themselves and believe in each other in a way that we've been talking about all long, that's what makes tonight special."
Freshman Regan Reed (Flanagan, Ill./Flanagan-Cornell) recorded a team-high 13 kills while hitting a team-best .182. She was followed by juniors Emma Harris (Streator, Ill./Streator) and Corinne DeBoard (Centralia, Ill./Christ Our Rock Lutheran) with 11 and eight kills, respectively.
Rori Dosemagen (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) notched a team-high 25 digs. Setter Faith Catour (Orion, Ill./Orion) contributed 18 digs, along with 29 assists. Reed and Megan Masching (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac) contributed 17 digs.
Reed and Masching also had two aces apiece, while DeBoard recorded one block.
The Tigers came out strong in the first set and hit .378 en route to a 25-17 win. But when play resumed, the Red Devils elevated their game to a different level while the Tigers took several steps back.
The home team raced to a 25-14 win to even the score of the match and record the team's first set win since Feb. 12.
But after playing with such confidence and cohesion, the Red Devils quickly fell into a 7-0 hole in the third set. The team had to be resilient to rally back and take control. Eureka successfully whittled the lead down to two points at 22-20, prompting the Tigers to take a timeout to regroup.
After that, the Red Devils scored the next three points to take the lead and complete a 6-0 run.
The Tigers scored two of the next three, but an Iowa Wesleyan error and a kill by DeBoard clinched it, giving the Red Devils a 2-1 lead.
"It was definitely an anxiety-ridden game," Harris said. "We were down a lot, we were behind a lot, and just watching our team work together and come back and win was honestly amazing, and proves that all of our hard work is finally paying off, and that we can do it."
The Red Devils started off the fourth set well, but the Tigers took over with a 6-0 run that made it 15-10 and largely cruised to the end.
The visitors put together another 6-0 run to take a 9-4 advantage in the fifth and final set, but the Red Devils roared back with seven straight points. After a sideout, the Dosemagen went back to serve and helped lead the Eureka run.
Reed contributed back-to-back kills in the run, but most of the kills came by way of keeping rallies alive and forcing Iowa Wesleyan to make a mistake.
After grabbing an 11-9 lead, the Red Devils scored four of the last six points of the match. A kill by Reed made it match point.
The final point featured a dig on the floor by Dosemagen, a hard hit by Reed and a final attack by Katelin Peters (New Berlin, Ill./New Berlin) that the Tigers failed to return, sending the Red Devils' arms up in triumph.
It was the Red Devils' first win since Oct. 3, 2019.
"I was ecstatic," DeBoard said. "Just being able to finally come over that hump and win that game made me so happy and so happy to be on this team. I'm just so thankful that I'm with every one of these girls."