Independence — Saturday was a day to put an exclamation point on the season for Crosshill Christian, giving them some momentum heading into the state playoffs on Wednesday and a chance at winning the CASCO League Tournament Championship. The day didn’t quite turn into a magical one for the Eagles, who fell 17-25, 25-19, 21-25, 14-25 to the Jewell Pirates, who in turn clinched a spot in the league championship game against the St. Paul Buckaroos. The Eagles still had an opportunity to finish third place with a win over Jewell.
Jewell, a team coming in with only seven players on the roster, came out hot early in the first set, seizing an early 3-0 lead. They would open up their advantage to 7-1 and hold leads of 9-5, 12-5, and 17-8 while maintaining firm control of the set. Crosshill Christian managed to close the gap back down to 23-17, but Blue Jays would shut the door with a 25-17 first set victory. The Blue Jays opened up a 4-3 lead, but unlike the first set, the Eagles would knot it up at seven apiece. Jewel went on a 4-0 run to take an 11-7 lead, but Crosshill Christian closed the gap back to 11-10, setting into motion a bunch of back and forth action. The teams traded the lead numerous times with Jewell leading 21-19, but the Eagles would go on a 3-0 run to take the lead 22-21. They wouldn’t relinquish it either, as the Eagles closed out the set on a 6-0 run to take it 25-21.
The teams were locked in 4-4 battle early in the third set, but Crosshill Christian took the lead 7-4, and they would hold it for good afterwards despite challenges from the Blue Jays that closed them within a single point. Eventually, the Eagles opened a lead of 17-15, extending it to 21-17 and closing it out 25-18 to take a 2-1 match lead. In set number four, the Eagles hit the gas pedal early, opening a 5-2 lead. They would extend it out to 8-3 and 12-6, with the Blue Jays cutting it to 14-10. Crosshill Christian never was really in danger of losing it though, as the closest Jewell got was 20-16 late in the set, and Crosshill Christian closed it out 25-19 with the four set victory 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-19, clinching a 1A state playoff berth in the process. As for Jewell, they await their fate when the 1A bracket is released on Tuesday night.