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EUREKA - Following Wednesday's 25-22, 26-24 victory over Deer Creek-Mackinaw in the sectional finals, Eureka (34-3) moved within one match from a second trip to the Final Four in the last three seasons. The match was originally slated for Monmouth United, which hosted the two semifinals, but was moved Tuesday afternoon to the Reagan Athletic Complex on the Eureka College campus to lessen the travel for the two Heart of Illinois Conference rivals, who are separated by less than 20 miles.

Hailey Flowers led the Hornets with nine kills, while Carson Smalley put down seven for the Chiefs (26-11), who were down 5-0 to begin the second set.

“I think we were frustrated. We had opportunities in the first (set) and did not capitalize on them,” stated Chiefs’ coach Brandon Mueller. “I do not think we were mentally focused and ready to go and they jumped on us. We made some silly errors.”

For Eureka, they claimed their 12 consecutive match and have been on the winning side in each of the past six encounters with DCM, including three this season.

“I’m not sure what the secret is,” said Hornets' coach Tracy Heffren. “I just remember playing them in fifth and sixth grade. Dee Mack is a great team and we know they have that never-say-die attitude. I guess we have a lot of confidence when we play them.”

Eureka advances to meet Pleasant Plains (31-6) in the Beardstown Supersectional with a 7 p.m. first serve on Friday. The Cardinals eliminated Sangamo Conference foe Maroa-Forsyth 25-15, 25-21 to capture the Riverton Sectional.

Notes: The gymnasium inside the RAC is named Dave Darnall Court in honor of the winningest men’s basketball coach in program history. He was on hand Wednesday to watch his granddaughter, sophomore Alexis Charlton, play for the Hornets. Over the last six DCM-Eureka matches, only one has gone three sets.

See article on Nov. 8 Woodford County Journal newsstands

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