Game 1: Evangel 3, St. Louis College of Pharmacy 2 (25-19, 26-24, 20-25, 20-25, 15-13) | Box Score
Game 2: Evangel 3, Central Baptist 0 (25-11, 25-18, 25-23) | Box Score
Location: Ashcroft Center | Springfield, Mo.
Records: Evangel (3-0) | St. Louis College of Pharmacy (0-3) | Central Baptist (2-2)
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Evangel volleyball continued its hot start to the 2020 season Saturday, holding off St. Louis College of Pharmacy in five sets in its opening contest of the day, before sweeping Central Baptist in straight sets to conclude a perfect 3-0 weekend at the Evangel Classic.
The Crusaders received standout performances from Daisy Eklund and Tori Lowry, who each tallied double-digit kill totals in all three EU wins on the weekend. Defensively, Eryn Russell averaged 8.18 digs per set to help limit the opposition to a combined .187 hitting percentage for the tournament.
"It's always great to start the season 3-0," head coach Mary Whitehead said. "We did a lot of things well this weekend, but we were also able to see some areas where we can improve. We're excited about the potential we see in this squad."
Evangel 3, St. Louis College of Pharmacy 2
Behind the trio of Eklund, Lowry and Russell, Evangel pulled out a five-set decision (25-19, 26-24, 20-25, 20-25, 15-13) over St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Eklund (24 kills, 14 digs) and Tori .(23 kills, 18 digs) each logged career highs for kills, while Russell's 42 digs established a personal high for the Crusaders' junior All-American.
The Crusaders breezed to a two-set lead, only to see the Eutectics rally to win the next two stanzas to force a deciding game. EU won the first four points of the final set and led 8-4, but the visitors rallied once again.
After a four-point rally evened the score, the Crusaders won six of the next nine, with Eklund recording three crucial kills. Leading 14-13, Regan Ansley delivered the game-winner, handing EU its second-straight victory to open the season.
The match started just as it eventually ended, with EU narrowly edging the Eutectics in a nip-and-tuck opening set. The two clubs battled to a 14-14 standstill, before four unanswered Crusader points handed the home team the upper hand. Evangel would win 11 of the final 16 points in the game to take the early lead.
The second set proved even closer, with EU claiming the win by the narrowest of margins (26-24), thanks to a stingy defense that repeatedly flustered the Eutectics, who hit a combined .059 as a team over the first two sets.
But the visitors bounced back with matching 25-20 wins in the third and fourth sets, committing just four total attack errors over the same span. Despite EU winning the first three points of the third, the Eutectics ultimately took control by winning eight of 10 points to establish a 19-11 bulge that the Crusaders would not overcome.
The fourth set followed a similar pattern, with the Eutectics opening up a five-point edge midway through, then holding the Crusaders at bay to force the deciding game.
Leah Jackson and Sydney Dunavant each recorded 30 assists for EU.
Evangel 3, Central Baptist 0
The final act of the weekend was all Evangel, which cruised to wins in the first two sets (25-11, 25-18) before edging the Mustangs in the final game by a 25-23 margin.
Lowry totaled 10 kills and punctuated the victory with a block and the game-winning kill to account for the final two points. Eklund led all attackers with 14 kills, finishing off a strong tournament that saw the senior average 5.36 kills per set (59 total).
In the opening set, Evangel capitalized on a series of miscues by the Mustangs to reel off 12 unanswered points, turning an 8-5 lead into a comfortable 15-point advantage. The Mustangs would respond with three straight points, but got no closer the rest of the way in the 25-11 Evangel decision.
Evangel's defense kept the pressure on CBC in the second as well, limiting the Mustangs to a negative attack efficiency (-.043) in the set. Russell served a pair of aces during a 6-0 run that gave the Crusaders an 8-3 cushion. EU would stretch its lead to as many as nine points before the visitors battled back to within four points at 22-18.
But Lowry stopped a string of five-straight CBC points with a kill, and back-to-back Mustang errors handed EU its third-consecutive two-sets-to-none lead in the tournament.
The final set was another nail-biter for both clubs, as neither team led by more than three points until CBC won six of seven points to establish a 21-16 advantage. From there, EU rallied for nine of the final 11 points, using a service ace from Eklund and five different winners from Lowry down the stretch to pull out the set and the victory.
Evangel will conclude its season-opening home stand Tuesday (Sept. 15) with a 7 p.m. Heart of America Athletic Conference contest against Baker at the Ashcroft Center.
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.