JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Megan Oldenburger, Katie Parnell and Marnie Streeter combined for 46 kills to send fourth-seeded Carson-Newman to the South Atlantic Conference Tournament semifinals with a four-set win over fifth-seeded Tusculum Tuesday night at Holt Fieldhouse 25-18, 25-17, 25-27 and 25-22.
"Megan has been working really hard," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "Megan's got [better] at controlling her error percentage but her kill rate but she is starting to figure out how to kill it. She has three errors on 53 swings – that's phenomenal for an outside. Katie Parnell – give her a ton of props. Alex Biro went down and Katie went on a run of kills. It was a great team effort. Tusculum was really scrappy and we matched it."
The Eagles move onto the semifinals as each of the top four seeds held serve on their home floors. Top-seeded Anderson (S.C.) swept eighth-seeded Coker and will be C-N's opponent Friday at 4 p.m. at Holt Fieldhouse.
Carson-Newman (16-13) has now won 15 of its last 16 quarterfinal matches in the SAC Tournament while beating Tusculum for a third time in three tries in the conference championship. The Pioneers end their season having lost seven of its last eight matches of the season.
Making just three attack errors, Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) pounded out a match-high 16 kills and hit .245 in the contest with nine digs while matching a career-high with 2.5 blocks.
For the 11th straight match Streeter (Goldvein, Va.) racked up double-digit kills with 15 and had 15 scoops for her seventh double-double of the season.
After registering one kill in the opening set, Parnell (Atlanta) finished the night with a career-high 15 kills while hitting .323.
"My mindset was that I need to be ready every point," Parnell assessed. "Alex did a really good job of being selfless. When she went out, she was helping me. As soon as I get off the court, she told me what shots I had, where I needed to fix my block."
Anna Patton (Franklin, Tenn.) posted her highest assist total of the season with 51 to go along with 14 digs for her 43rd career double-double.
Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) paced all athletes with 40 digs in the match for her fourth outing with 40 or more scoops.
Franklin's group never trailed in the first set after winning the first two points. Tusculum closed within a point on five occasions but C-N always had the response. A 4-0 spurt to extend the edge to 11-6 provided the home group with separation. Following a timeout at 19-16, the Eagles won six of the final eight as Parnell's first kill of the night ended the set.
After winning three of the first four points in the second stanza, Tusculum watched Carson-Newman rip off a 15-4 stretch as the Eagles captured a 16-7 lead. The advantage rose to as many as 11. The Pioneers won four straight points before succumbing to C-N's attack that hit .333 in the game as Natalie Harris (Monroe, N.C.) put the team ahead 2-0 in the match.
Tusculum raced out to a 9-2 advantage in the third set only to see C-N chipped away at the deficit. The Eagles won three straight points to pull within one at 18-17 as part of a 7-3 spurt to tie the score at 21. Franklin's side had two match points at 24-23 and 25-24 that the Tusculum stymied. An attack miscue by Parnell sent the match to a fourth set.
For the second straight stanza Tusculum raced out to a 9-2 lead. The deficit was 10-4 when Carson-Newman reeled off six straight to tie the score at 15. The Eagles went ahead 15-13 only to see the Pioneers regain the lead on the heels of a 4-0 spurt. Tusculum's lead was 22-20 when the home group rattled off the final five capped by Harris's eighth kill of the match to keep Franklin's club in the tournament field.
A trio of Pioneers had double-digit kills led by Sabrina Schleuger's 14 kills and 12 digs. Laryssa Welch had 13 kills, seven digs and three blocks while Mariah Lewis finished with 10.
Shannon Murphy posted her 21st double-double of her senior season with 42 assists and 14 digs while Melissa Mazur had 38 digs.
C-N advances to the SAC semifinals Friday afternoon for a 6:30 p.m. first serve at Holt Fieldhouse in the second of two semifinal matches. Broadcast coverage can be found on cneagles.com/live for a video stream provided by the Eagle Sports Network.
- CN -