JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After dropping eight of their last nine matches, the Carson-Newman Eagles (10-14, 5-12 South Atlantic Conference) defeated the Coker Cobras (3-22, 0-17 SAC) 25-15, 25-19, 19-25 and 25-16 Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse.
"I was a little disappointed that we dropped that third set," head coach Shannon Mincey said. "In the same sense, I was utilizing different lineups and different looks so to some sense chemistry was a little discombobulated. Hats off to my girls for coming back in the fourth and finishing."
In an impressive opening frame, the Eagles outhit the Cobras .433 to -.037 as the home club jumped out to a 6-1 lead. Coker was able to pull within a 10-7 tally before Carson-Newman reeled off ten of 14 points concluding with a kill by junior outside hitter Lauren Santarelli (Colorado Springs, Colo.).
In the second stanza, Coker was trailing 7-5 until Carson-Newman responded with six straight points on kills from three different players. The Cobras were able to close the gap to four points on two occasions, but the Eagles came through with the set victory on a ball handling error.
The visiting team never fell behind in the third stanza jumping out to a 6-2 advantage. The Eagles trailed 19-18 after a service error, but Coker finished the game winning six of seven points to force a fourth set as they hit .469.
Despite winning the first point of the fourth set, Coker could not continue the momentum. A 5-0 spurt for Carson-Newman put the home side on top 9-3. The Cobras were able to close to four points on multiple occasions, but the Eagles won 11 of the final 17 points to take the match on a day where they clubbed .321.
Santarelli tied a career-high with 17 kills on a .556 attack percentage while adding 11 digs for her second double-double of her junior campaign.
Junior outside hitter Rachel Harper (Chattanooga, Tenn.) tallied her fourth consecutive double-double and fourteenth overall as she compiled 11 kills and 15 digs.
The middle combo of sophomore Kiayna O'Neal (Katy, Texas) and freshman JaLesa Beaver (Katy, Texas) impressed for Mincey's group. O'Neal racked up 12 kills on a .455 attack percentage while Beaver finished with 10 kills, two solo blocks and two block assists.
The Cobras were led by Cassandra Nagel who notched 11 kills and 16 digs as she set season-highs in both categories.
With five games remaining in the regular season, the Eagles sit four games behind Queens for the final spot in the SAC tournament.
"We have several key conference matches left," Mincey said. "I'm hopeful that my players will really be hungry going into that weekend and we have a whole week to train for that."
Carson-Newman travels to Catawba Friday night for a 7 p.m. first serve before concluding its road slate with a 4 p.m. start time against Queens Saturday.