JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The No. 9 Wingate Bulldogs (20-2, 16-0 South Atlantic Conference) were able to escape with a four set win against the Carson-Newman Eagles (9-14, 4-11 SAC) Friday night at Holt Fieldhouse 11-25, 25-19, 25-17 and 25-19.
"I was very pleased with our team starting off," head coach Shannon Mincey said following the match. "The finish is obviously the most important. We have to hang our heads a little bit because we did waste an opportunity tonight to capitalize on some out of system balls that Wingate was producing tonight."
With junior setter Kristen Pickett (Cleveland, Tenn.) on serve, Carson-Newman raced out to a 5-0 advantage on a kill by senior right side Emily Schultz (Atlanta, Ga.). After the Bulldogs closed to within three points, the Eagles responded. The home team did not allow Wingate to pull any closer than four points the rest of the set finishing on a 9-2 run to take the first frame.
It marked just the third time this season that an opponent held the nationally ranked Bulldogs to 11 points or fewer. No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul did so twice on September 8.
Junior outside hitters Rachel Harper (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Lauren Santarelli (Colorado Springs, Colo.) led the way with three kills each as Carson-Newman hit .308 and held Wingate to a -.069 percentage.
The Eagles surged out to an early lead in the second set taking a 7-3 edge on a service ace by freshman libero Taylor Lowe (Franklin, Tenn.). Wingate answered with a 6-0 spurt to capture the lead. Carson-Newman tied the score at 11 before the Bulldogs reeled off seven of nine points before closing out the second stanza.
Lowe compiled nine digs while Harper notched four kills and three digs in a game that saw the visitors hit .268.
In the third set, the Eagles once again captured a 5-0 lead with Pickett on serve. A kill by Harper put the Eagles on top 14-7 prompting Wingate to use a timeout. The Bulldogs looked like a top ten team as they won 18 of the final 21 points to go on top two sets to one.
Wingate held Carson-Newman to a .111 attack percentage as they tallied six blocks. Pickett finished with 10 assists in the game.
The fourth set saw 11 ties and five lead changes. Mincey's group used a 4-0 run to take a 7-5 lead before Wingate used a timeout. The Eagles had a two point edge on two occasions, but the Bulldogs gained separation late using four unanswered to capture the match.
Harper racked up her thirteenth double-double of the season and third in a row with 15 kills and 15 digs in the match.
Pickett finished a dig shy of a double-double as she handed out 34 assists. Lowe had 26 digs and Santarelli notched seven kills and 12 digs.
"I'm a little bit concerned about tomorrow because we tend to play with the level of the competition," Mincey said about Saturday afternoon's match against Coker. "Tonight and tomorrow are different images of each other. I'm going to really challenge my team in the morning."
The Eagles are back in action Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Holt Fieldhouse when they face Coker. The Cobras have not won since September 7, a string of 19 straight matches. Live video and stats can be found by visiting cneagles.com/live.