MARS HILL, N.C. — Playing three matches on the road this week, Carson-Newman gets the ball rolling Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Tar Heel State with a South Atlantic Conference against Mars Hill looking to keep the momentum rolling from the opening weekend.
“Take care of your bodies, we have to have a real commitment level to that,” Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. “Monday is a short and intense practice to make sure that we are sharp. We will take some things from this weekend and make sure they are emphasized for Tuesday. We will go in there and control what we can control – how we compete, our composure. These things will always be under our control. Mars Hill is not a team that is going to hand you a bunch [of points]. You have to stay the course.”
Coach Dave Franklin’s crew is looking to begin league action 3-0 for the first time in his tenure and the first time since 2015 when the program started 5-0 and 14-1 en route to a region championship.
Tuesday’s meeting with Mars Hill marks the 63rd all-time meeting between the two programs as Carson-Newman (4-1, 2-0) holds a 39-23 lead, its second-most wins versus any school in history. Over the last four campaigns, the clubs have split the regular-season series but C-N has won back-to-back affairs played in Chambers Gym.
After being swept at home, the Eagles turned around and won the regular-season finale at Mars Hill (2-3, 1-1) in four frames to improve to 17-9 on the road in the series history.
Since the beginning of the decade, C-N holds a slight 10-8 edge sweeping the season series twice in 2014 and 2015.
Erin Edwards notched a career-high 14 kills and Marnie Streeter pounded out 16 blasts as C-N overcame a first-set loss to take the victory. No other C-N player had more than six kills in the match as Megan Oldenburger used her defense piling up a career-high 28 digs.
Morgan Ballard has produced some of the top matches in her career against the Lions posting 159 total digs in four matches for an average of 11.36 digs per set. She has posted at least 34 in three of the four outings.
Coach Tony Fontanelle’s crew was also in Harrogate to begin the year sweeping King before bowing out in three games to Emmanuel and USC Aiken.
The team was blocked frequently to the tune of 2.67 rejections per set being limited to a .121 hitting percentage during that weekend.
It has been feast or famine for the Lions this season as every outing has been a sweep one way or the other with the team no winning or losing consecutive matches this season. Over the weekend, the unit swept Catawba on Friday before falling to Queens.
While it is towards the bottom of the league in attack percentage at slightly above .100 as a team,
Mars Hill is in a familiar spot ranking second in the league in digs per set with just shy of 20 on the year.
The team returns a pair of all-conference picks from last season led by first-team outside hitter Sally Anne Johnson who had 2.43 kills per game and a .286 hitting percentage in 2018. She had 15 kills against C-N last season.
All-Freshman team selection Sarah Goddard has taken a big step forward this year. After posting 1.98 kills per set as a rookie, she has 3.07 kills per set, good for seventh in the league, while hitting .231. The sophomore had nine kills and just one miscue on 42 swings in the contest at Mars Hill against the Eagles in 2018.