JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-2, 0-1) volleyball dropped a five set match to Tusculum (4-0, 1-0) Tuesday night at Holt Fieldhouse 25-20, 27-25, 18-25, 13-25, 9-15. The Eagles won the first two sets before the Pioneers attack started to click.
"I think mentally we were very prepared for this match" head coach Shannon Mincey said. "We scouted Tusculum very well. Our practices have been good up until this game. I felt very comfortable with my girls going into it."
The first half of the initial stanza was a seesaw affair until the Eagles reeled off seven of nine points to jump out to a 17-12 lead. Outside hitter Rachel Harper recorded eight kills with an impressive .727 attack percentage while Kristen Pickett dished out 15 assists. The home team tallied a .452 hitting percentage taking control of the match early.
Carson-Newman again used success late in the set to overcome a comeback from the Pioneers in the second set. The Eagles staved off a set point for Tusculum and won the final three points courtesy of kills by freshman Jessica Sokol to capture the second set.
Freshman Taylor Lowe notched nine digs in the second set as four different players recorded multiple kills.
Tusculum held a steady lead in the third set, holding an advantage of no fewer than three points in the final 37 rallies of the set. Megan Hasse, Tusculum's outside hitter, recorded six kills, three of which came after Carson-Newman cut the deficit to 14-10.
"In the third set, I've just got a group that isn't accustomed to facing adversity very well," Mincey said. "That's something they are going to have to challenge themselves as an individual to be able to step up. Tusculum threw some things at us and took us out of system and we just weren't able to collect ourselves."
The story of the fourth set belonged to the Pioneers' hitting efficiency of .619 as the visiting school recorded 13 kills with zero errors. With the score tied at four, successive unforced errors by Carson-Newman gave Tusculum a four point edge. The Pioneers finished the set on a 10-2 run.
In the fifth set, with the score even at four, Tusculum used two kills, an attack error from Sokol and a service ace to jump out to an 8-4 advantage. It was a hole that the Eagles could not come back from as the Pioneers scored the match's final four point for the come-from-behind victory.
Harper finished one kill shy of her career-high as she finished with 23 kills on 71 attempts, the second-most attacks in school history. The Chattanooga, Tenn. native notched her third double-double in four matches with 18 digs.
Sophomore Kiayna O'Neal set a new career-high with 15 kills on 30 attacks, good for a .400 hitting percentage to go along with four digs.
Pickett finished with a game-high 54 assists, four behind her career-high set on October 12, 2012 at Catawba to go along with eight digs.
Sokol set a new career-high as she finished with nine kills in 23 attempts as well as eight digs.
Overall, Tusculum finished with a .331 hitting percentage compared to a .224 clip from Carson-Newman who won the block category with seven rejections to three from the Pioneers.
The Eagles will have a couple days off before embarking on its first road trip of the season as they will participate in the King University Invitational on Friday and Saturday. The first of four matches is Southern Wesleyan Friday with first serve slated for noon.