Score: Evangel 3, William Penn 0
Location: Ashcroft Center | Springfield, Mo.
Records: Evangel (1-0, 1-0), William Penn (3-2, 0-1)
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Evangel volleyball opened its 2020 season with a straight-set victory over visiting William Penn Friday evening as part of the Evangel Classic.
Led by Daisy Eklund's 21 kills, the Crusaders won three tightly-contested sets (26-24, 25-21, 25-23) to post a victory on opening night for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
"It was a total team effort tonight," head coach Mary Whitehead said. "Great defense led to a powerful offense. A conference win is always tough to come by. We executed well and picked up a great win."
EU rallied from a two-point deficit in the late stages of the first set, neutralizing a pair of set points for the Statesmen to take the early advantage. Eklund put away three critical points down the stretch, and Regan Ansley closed out the set with a kill of her own.
The second stanza followed a similar script, as neither club led by more than two points until the Crusaders rallied to win five consecutive points to claim a 16-10 edge. EU stretched the margin to eight points, but William Penn bounced back to win nine of the next 13 points to make things interesting.
But once again, Eklund came through with the decisive kill, lifting the Crusaders to a four-point decision in the second set.
The deciding set proved to be a nip-and-tuck affair as well, as Evangel built a 15-10 lead, only to once again stave off a Statesmen surge down the stretch. After the visitors fought back to draw even at 23-all on an Alyssa Young kill, Eklund put the victory on ice by finishing off back-to-back points for the 25-23 winner.
In addition to Eklund's performance, the Crusaders received a boost from Tori Lowry, who logged a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs to go along with a pair of blocks. Eryn Russell led the EU defensive effort with a game-high 29 digs, as the Statesmen hit just .138 as a team on the night.
The Evangel Classic concludes Saturday with the Crusaders hosting St. Louis College of Pharmacy at 9:30 a.m., and Central Baptist at 4 p.m.
For the latest information on Evangel Athletics, follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EUAthletics, Twitter (@EUAthletics), or visit EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the new Evangel Crusaders Gameday App through Google Play.