JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – On a night where several Eagles posted benchmark numbers, Carson-Newman saw Tusculum walk away with a victory 25-22, 22-25, 20-25, 25-15 and 15-11 Tuesday evening inside of Holt Fieldhouse in South Atlantic Conference play.
"Execution in the fifth set," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said of the difference. "There were some critical moments in that fifth set where they were able to out-execute us and get a big enough lead to where we had to come back and fight to get even with them. Give [Tusculum] credit. When you get into a deciding set, they came out ready to execute right from the get-go.
"I thought our effort level was there. Our competitive level was there. The game demands certain things and execution levels. We are closer to them than we had been. We are definitely putting effort into the right things – we just have to learn to do it."
Tusculum (7-5, 5-3) has now won the last five matches that went the distance in the all-time series against Carson-Newman (6-5, 4-4) since the Eagles last five-set triumph on Oct. 20, 2009. It is first time that the two programs have split a regular-season series since 2008 when, like 2017, each club won on the road.
Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.) posted a match-high 18 kills on a .280 hitting percentage while registering a career-high 18 digs. It was the sixth time in the last seven matches that the sophomore had at least 12 smashes.
For the second time this season, Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) crested the 40-dig plateau leading all players with 47 scoops. The sophomore now holds two of the top three dig matches in 2017 across Division II.
Swinging a career-high 37 times, Natalie Harris (Monroe, N.C.) registered a season-high 12 kills and three service aces to go along with four digs and 2.5 blocks.
Emily Harnischfeger (Macedon, N.Y.) recorded a career-high 21 digs adding to nine kills and a couple service aces.
The opening moments of the first set saw each team ride hot stretches. After Tusculum won the first three points, C-N reeled off seven straight only to see the visitors answer with three in-a-row to make it 7-6. The fifth tie of the frame came at 15 before the Eagles ripped off six of the next eight to gain a cushion. Harris ended the set with a smash to the surface.
The second stanza favored the Eagles out of the gates as the home group expanded a lead to 14-9. Tusculum responded out of a timeout by winning the next nine points. C-N won the next five points to regain the lead at 19-18. Tusculum countered by winning seven of the final 10 points to equalize in the match.
In the third set, Carson-Newman won the first two points only to see Tusculum rattle off nine of the next 10 to grab a 9-3 advantage. TC's margin ballooned to eight points at 20-12 before C-N used a 7-1 spurt to close the gap to a deuce. The Pioneers responded quickly winning four of the final five capped by a kill from Cassie Born to take the set.
After Tusculum captured a 4-2 lead in the fourth frame, the Eagles used a 14-2 sequence to go on top by 10 points. While the Pioneers hung around, the Eagles won the final five points after a 7-2 TC spurt to force a decisive fifth game.
With a 7-2 start, the Pioneers raced out to a cushion that the Eagles never could overcome completely. The closest Franklin's group would get was at 10-9 following a 6-2 sequence. Tusculum had the answer winning five of the final seven capturing the match on a service error from Streeter.
The outing saw the Eagles post a .159 attack clip with 109 digs, eight service aces and 9.5 blocks compared to a line of .124, 110 digs, four aces and six rejections from the Pioneers.
Shannon Murphy racked up her 10th double-double of the season with 43 assists and 19 digs to on top of five kills.
Laryssa Welch and Sabrina Schleuger each tallied 12 kills to lead the Pioneers. Schleuger added 13 digs. Melissa Mazur led the back row with 36 scoops.
Carson-Newman wraps up its homestand with a pair of matches this weekend beginning with a Friday night meeting with Anderson (S.C.) at 7 p.m. The Eagle Sports Network will be on site to provide the broadcast coverage on cneagles.com/live.
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