Southeast Champion Eagles nab six seed, face Rockhurst

The Carson-Newman volleyball team celebrates their NCAA Division II Southeast Region Championship Saturday in Wingate, N.C.

INDIANAPOLIS — Fresh off of a Southeast Region Championship, Carson-Newman learned Sunday that the NCAA seeded the Eagles sixth in the National Quarterfinals and will open the festivities in Denver on Thursday playing at 2 p.m. EST against third-seeded Rockhurst.

The two programs have never met in volleyball but C-N has played five matches against five dfferent current members of the Great Lakes Valley Conference going 2-3 in those affairs. Most recently the Eagles defeated Quincy in the 2015 season opener in five sets at Grand Valley State, the start of the team’s first region title.

The Orange and Blue’s other win over a GLVC team provided another ignition to an historic season when the program took down Missouri-St. Louis in five frames in game two of the 2002 season. Carson-Newman hoisted the South Atlantic Conference regular season and tournament titles that season, the only time in school history that has happened.

Rockhurst enters the week having won seven straight matches taking home both the regular season and GLVC Tournament crowns along the way. The Hawks were ranked 19th in the country in the final AVCA coaches’ poll. The club was the No. 5 seed in the Midwest taking down 17th-ranked Ferris State in five sets before sweeping top-seeded and 14th-ranked Lewis and second-seeded and 10th-ranked Hillsdale.

The Hawks are familiar with the region in recent history playing Flagler, C-N’s region semifinal opponent, in the 2017 National Quarterfinals where Rockhurst sealed a four-set win in Pensacola, Fla. It has now won region titles in three of the last five years and was in Tampa with C-N in 2015 falling to Western Washington in four sets in the quarterfinals.

Coach Ashley Tiernan’s team is looking to do something that no team from the SAC has ever done, win a match at the National Quarterfinals. In fact only Carson-Newman and Wingate have won a region title from the league as neither school has advanced to the semifinals.