HICKORY, N.C. – For the third straight match, the Carson-Newman Eagles (8-9, 3-7) could not overcome an early deficit as they fell to the Lenoir Rhyne Bears (9-4, 6-3) in four sets Friday night 25-19, 18-25, 25-17 and 25-20 at Shuford Gym.
"We played strong in set two," head coach Shannon Mincey said. "We made a strong comeback in the fourth set, but couldn't close the gap. A lot of players contributed tonight in an effort to find that spark plug. Our goal is to get a split this weekend."
The Eagles kept the first set close as the two sides were all squared at 14. Eight of the next ten points were won by the Bears before the home team closed the door for a first set victory that saw seven ties.
Senior right side Emily Schultz (Atlanta, Ga.) tallied three kills, but the Eagles were held to a .094 attack percentage.
Carson-Newman surged out to a 7-2 lead in the second stanza on a service ace by freshman Taylor Lowe (Franklin, Tenn.). Lenoir-Rhyne closed to within four points on several occasions, but the Eagles took their first set on a kill by junior outside hitter Rachel Harper (Chattanooga, Tenn.).
Harper, Schultz and junior outside hitter Lauren Santarelli (Colorado Springs, Colo.) notched four kills each as the Eagles hit .333. Junior setter Kristen Pickett (Cleveland, Tenn.) handed out 11 assists.
In the third frame, the Bears surged out to a 7-3 lead. Carson-Newman did not pull any closer during the rest of the game as Lenoir-Rhyne hit .393 to go up 2-1.
Harper and Schultz again led the way as they each had four kills as the Eagles hit .226.
The Eagles trailed early in the fourth set as the visiting squad fell behind 9-2 before calling a timeout. Out of the timeout, Carson-Newman pulled to within two at 14-12 on a kill from freshman right side Jessica Sokol (Franklin, Tenn.) prompting a timeout by the Bears. Lenoir-Rhyne regained control of the match winning eight of the next 12 points to take down the Eagles.
In the match, Harper and Schultz each finished with 11 kills helping the roster finish with a .200 hitting percentage. Pickett recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 38 assists and 11 digs.
The Bears saw three players rack up double-digit kills. Brittany Toffan and Ashley Wells had 13 kills while Haley Rhyne piled up 12 as Lenoir-Rhyne accumulated a .305 attack percentage.
It is a short turnaround for the Eagles as they travel to Brevard for a noon first serve. Live stats are available for the match by clicking here. To stay up to date with the volleyball team, follow @CNathletics on Twitter.