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The Christ Lutheran continues to experience its share of ups and down with the East Central Illinois Conference tournament and IHSA regional play looming.
The Crusaders lost a pair of matches last week. On Oct. 11 at Deland Weldon, Christ Lutheran fell 25-9, 25-11 in straight sets.
Andrea DeBella led the way with eight digs, two assists and an ace, continuing her consistent play, coach Jesse Balk said.
“She’s someone where it doesn’t matter if she’s hurt or tired or sick. She’s going to go out there and give it 110 percent. Sometimes that can be a bit of a bad thing because she tries to do too much that, but (that’s because) she’s extremely competitive,” Balk said. “She’s pretty good at staying positive and trying to pick the other girls up.”
Last Friday at home, Christ Lutheran fell again in straight sets, this time to Urbana University High. The loss dropped the Crusaders to 5-16 overall entering Tuesday’s match at Decatur Christian (it ended after the Record’s deadline) and to 1-5 in ECIC play.
The focus, now, will be simple, according to Balk.
“Staying positive is the biggest thing to focus on right now,” he said.
There are still several areas of emphasis on the floor the Crusaders are focusing on as well.
“Miscommunication has plagued us all year. Part of that is so many new people on the floor at the same time,” Balk said.
“Obviously, we’d like to be hitting our stride a little bit sooner than the game before the conference tournament. These girls have all kinds of physical abilities. It’s just them all having the same idea that they can get out there and do it.”
Christ Lutheran plays in the ECIC tournament this Friday and Saturday, with Balk expecting his team to get the No. 5 or No. 6 seed. He said though his team must improve to make a run in the tournament, there’s hope because it played well in spurts against most of the league foes.
“We’ve played pretty decent against everyone in our conference. Getting a couple wins can put us in the conference championship game,” Balk said.
The sixth-seeded Crusaders open up regional play Monday in Gilman, where they face third-seeded Milford. The match is set for 6:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to Tuesday’s matchup against second-seeded Donovan.
As has been the case in recent years, the goal for the Crusaders is to win the first regional volleyball match in school history. Last year they challenged CPCI before falling short.
“We always want to get over that hump,” Balk said. “It’s not so much that it’s regional, but it’s getting wins against some of the public schools around here to put us on the map. The biggest thing right now is for our girls to stay positive.”