SALEM — Some bad breaks and the powerful spiking of Jacksonville junior Jaelyn Keene were too much for the Columbia Eagles to overcome.
The 6-foot-2 Keene had 16 kills as the Crimsons beat the Eagles 25-18, 28-26 Saturday in the Class 3A Salem Volleyball Regional.
"It just seemed where ever the ball was, we were not," Columbia coach Kelly Landgraf said. "It would hit off of our block, and we were just not in the right places. I think we made a good turnaround from the first game to the second game, but it just seemed like we got some unlucky breaks with the ball tonight."
The Eagles, who upset two-time defending champion Mater Dei on Thursday in the Murphysboro Sectional, battled through five match points in the second game before finally succumbing to the Crimsons.
The Eagles end their season at 25-3-1. They'll lose eight seniors to graduation.
"The seniors will not ever be replaced," Landgraf said. "The things they did were just fun and amazing. They're a great group to be around. They're competitive, and my heart breaks for them. It just wasn't in the cards tonight."
The Eagles got eight kills from Erica Varel, seven kills from Megan Huffman, six kills and two blocks from Savannah Wittenbrink and four kills from Alexis Royer and Rachel Stone.
The Crimsons improved to 30-8. They advance to the semifinal round of the Class 3A state tournament, where they'll play Richmond-Burton at 6 p.m. Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.