It was a rough road to finally get in the win column for the Eureka Lions.
Over the past week, the Lions have contended with a depleted lineup so finding any kind of consistency has been difficult. But Tuesday night at Stillwater Christian, something just clicked. Eureka pulled out a thrilling 22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 17-25, 15-12 victory over Stillwater for its first win of the season.
“It was an intense match all the way,” Eureka coach Casey Jacobson said.
“Every single game it was tough and we really pushed through a lot. They were a good team and they kept us on our toes.”
Three injuries in a week’s time forced Jacobson to use different lineups almost every game. Falling into any sort of rhythm has been tough, but Jacobsen said her team pulled through and made it work.
Junior Maggie Graves had 14 kills and senior Sienna Utter recorded four service aces, 11 kills and 21 digs for Eureka. Sophomore Avory Escobar had 29 of 31 team assists and 16 digs.
Stillwater led Eureka 18-16 in digs and 7-4 in blocks. The Lions notched an impressive 81 digs and 36 kills.
“The girls had to push together and find a different rotation and play with each other,” Jacobson said.
“We definitely have heart and grit.”
Some of the lineup changes involved playing two freshmen, Reena Thompson and Jadyn Pluid, who made their season debuts for the Lions against Stillwater. Thompson had four blocks.
“We had two freshmen play who we haven’t played before,” Jacobsen said. “They stepped up.”
Eureka also introduced a libero for the first time this season. A libero is essentially a defensive specialist that wears a different colored jersey than the rest of the team.
“We’ve had a lot of changes so today is unlike any other game that we’ve played before,” Jacobson said.
Eureka, now 1-4, begins conference play against Thompson Falls on Saturday.
Stillwater coach Diane Smith was pleased with her team’s performance, even though they didn’t come out on the winning side. Senior Helen Hashley had a standout performance for the Cougars, with six service aces, five of seven team blocks and 13 kills.
Eureka 3, Stillwater Christian 2
Kills – Eureka 36 (Maggie Graves 14, Sienna Utter 11), Stillwater 30 (Helen Hashley 13); Assists – Eureka 31 (Avory Escobar 29), Stillwater 32 (Ramey Metzger 29); Blocks – 4 (Reena Truman 4, Katie Schmidt 2), Stillwater 7 (Hashley 5); Digs – Eureka 81 (Utter 21, Escobar 16), Stillwater 16 (Sydney McKerrow 6); Aces – Eureka 16 (Katie Komac 6, Utter 4), Stillwater 18 (Hashley 6)