Eureka, Ill. – The #18 Westminster College Blue Jays took their act on the road on Saturday. It was their first match since being ranked #18 in the AVCA Division III Coaches Poll. The Eureka College Red Devils put up a fight but the Blue Jays were able to prevail in straight sets (25-20, 25-20, 27-25). The Blue Jays, winners of six straight, improve to 6-0 overall on the season and a SLIAC leading 6-0.
In set number one the Blue Jays pulled out to an early lead. A Natalie Needy kill and a Needy service ace capped a 6-2 run that saw the Blue Jays lead 12-5. Later Needy again connected on a kill off of a Gretchen Durbala assist and the Blue Jays would have their biggest lead of the set at 17-9. Eureka would rally and pull to within 21-19 and then 22-20 before Westminster closed out the set with three straight points.
The second set went similar to the first. The Blue Jays were able to open up a lead early. An Eryka Wnayonyi kill from an assist by Durbala gave Westminster it's biggest lead of the match at 21-10. Eureka would again rally by scoring the next six points to close to within 21-16. The Blue Jays would manage to keep the Red Devils at arm's length the rest of the way. An Allie Kennebeck kill moved the Blue Jays to 24-19 and an eventual service error by Eureka gave Westminster the second set win 25-20.
The third set started the same way again for the Jays. A Durbala service ace midway through the set gabe the Blue Jays a 12-6 lead. Eureka would rally to cut the lead to 16-15. Wanyonyi then jumped into action with a kill and back to back service aces to give the Blue Jays some breathing room at 19-15. The Red Devils would respond again to tie the score at 21-21. A kill by Haley Menke and an error on Eureka gave the Jays a 23-21 lead. Eureka would respond again and actually take a 24-23 lead. The teams traded points and with the score 25-24 in favor of Eureka the Blue Jays stood tall and scored the last three points of the set to win the set 27-25 and the match 3-0.
The Blue Jay attack was led today by Needy, the SLIAC's leader in hitting percentage, had 13 kills while hitting .550. Menke recorded 10 kills. Payton Bledsoe had a good afternoon recording 7 kills while hitting .462. Durbala came through with 29 assists to lead the team. Erica Schrader again anchored the defense with 13 digs followed by Kennebeck with 10 digs. Wanyonyi led the team with three service aces. Needy added to her conference leading block total with two solo blocks. Westminster outhit Eureka .205-.103.
The Blue Jays will once again be on the road next Tuesday night at Blackburn College. The match is set for a 7:00 p.m. first serve.