ST. ELMO — St. Elmo/Brownstown completed an undefeated campaign in Egyptian Illini Conference pool play on Tuesday, sweeping Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran in two sets.
The Eagles, who are the top seed in the EIC tournament, gave up four quick points to the Stallions in the first set, but went on a five-point run to take the lead. The Stallions tied the set, 9-9, before the Eagles pulled away.
The Eagles scored seven consecutive points, taking a 16-9 lead over Christ Our Rock and finished up a first-set win, despite the Stallions scoring six late points to lose by nine, 25-16.
SEB head coach Elise Asher said her team had eight hitting errors in the first set, after spotting Christ Our Rock four points to begin the game.
Christ Our Rock hung around to begin the second set, trailing 6-5 early on, bet the Eagles took control and a 17-10 lead – finishing the set with a 25-15 win.
“We're slow starters, which has unfortunately been kind of a mark for us lately,” Asher said. “I wasn't terribly upset with it, knowing that the offense that we were running looked good.”
Courtney Howard was a part of that offense with her team-high seven kills, while Gabi Moore added six more and Emily Bone had four.
Asher said her team reached a game-by-game goal to serve well, led by Erica Behl's four aces and Bethany Oberlink's three. Behl also led the team with eight assists.
“We might have missed one serve in the match,” Asher said. “We served really well.”
The win completed a 3-0 run in Pool A of the EIC tournament, which started on Monday when the Eagles beat Patoka and Ramsey, each in two sets; however, the game against Christ Our Rock was the closest of the three.
The Eagles will represent Pool A as the first-place team on Friday, playing against Beecher City in a semi-final round. Christ Our Rock clinched the second-place spot, advancing to Friday's games, with a three-set win over Patoka on Tuesday. The Stallions will play Cowden-Herrick.
Friday's match-up will be the third between SEB and Beecher City this season and Asher said she feels good about her team going forward, especially with a couple days off in between.
“We're a little sluggish right now, but have two days to chew things up in practice and get some swings in,” Asher said. “I feel good about our group. We just need to play within ourselves and do what we're capable of doing.”
The Eagles showed what they were capable of doing by winning the EIC regular season title, entering the tournament, and improving to 17-15 with Tuesday's win.
The winners of Friday's semifinal games will play each other in a championship game afterward, so Asher said her team needs two more wins to finish the season on top. Games start at 6 p.m. on Friday in St. Elmo.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Elmo/Brownstown 25 25
Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran 16 15
St. Elmo/Brownstown: Howard (7 kills, 3 digs, 1 block), Moore (6 kills, 1 ace, 3 digs), Oberlink (3 kills, 3 aces, 5 digs), Behl (1 kill, 8 assists, 4 aces, 6 digs, 1 block), Bone (4 kills, 1 assist, 1 dig), Austin (1 ace, 3 digs), Barnick (1 kill), Walk (9 assists, 2 digs), Beshel (4 digs), Guerrero (7 digs), Kroll (2 assists)