JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Putting the finishing touches on a six-match homestand, Carson-Newman faces off against South Atlantic Conference foe Anderson (S.C.) Friday night at 7 p.m. before turning around and battling non-conference opponent Francis Marion Saturday at 5 p.m. inside of Holt Fieldhouse.
"We have very talented players and a team that is very committed to itself in executing core values especially selflessness," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "If we can just do it consistently we are going to be in these matches with a great chance to win. We are going to do things today that push us to do things in a row and hopefully we find that consistency."
Carson-Newman (6-5, 4-4) will play its next six matches on the road following this weekend and won't return to the friendly confines until Oct. 20. Overall, October will feature nine of 12 matches played on the road.
Friday night is the 22nd meeting between C-N and Anderson (10-3, 4-1) as the Eagles cling to an 11-10 overall advantage that features a 7-5 mark at home. The program had won five of six until the Trojans swept the regular-season slate in 2017 needing five sets at home and four at Mossy Creek.
Anderson received a first-place vote and is projected to finish in third despite having three preseason first-team all-conference honorees. The Trojans were fifth at the end of the 2016 regular season.
Riding a five-match winning streak, coach Todd Hay's group has not lost a match since being swept at Wingate on Sept. 15. His unit has won 14 straight sets since falling 25-19 in the second stanza at Queens (N.C.) on Sept. 16.
"From film they are passing it well," Franklin analyzed. "They have dominant hitters and they are passing well so they can set them in system and take big swings. For us we are going to need to bring it from the service line. If we are able to do that and get them out of system, our blocking has been a strength. It will give us a chance to get value balls as we call them and transition into offense."
The Trojans are ranked in the top two of eight statistical categories highlighted by an opponent's attack percentage of .112 that places them 11th in the nation. With 2.16 blocks per set, AU is fourth in the league posting double-digit rejection tallies on three occasions.
Offensively, the school has the second-highest hitting clip at .224 having clubbed .250 or better in six of the team's 13 matches. The lowest percentage, .126, posted came against Wingate in its last setback.
Marissa Mitter leads the charge with 3.70 kills per set, second in the league. Rachel Burts is hitting .359 to rank fourth in the SAC. Setter Emily Conlin leads the league and is 10th in Division II in assists per set at 11.55.
Conlin piled up a total of 89 assists and 20 across the two matches while Burts dominated in the meeting at Holt with 17 kills on 30 swings to go along with 4.5 total rejections.
C-N and Francis Marion (4-8) will tangle for the ninth time and first since Sept. 7, 2012 when the Patriots knotted the all-time series at four with a five-set win at Holt Fieldhouse. The Eagles are 3-0 in Florence, S.C. but are just 1-4 at home with the lone victory coming on Aug. 28, 2009.
That match saw the Patriots post a .000 hitting percentage making 35 errors on 35 kills. The Eagles had 12 total blocks including five solo rejections. Katie Troyer led the offense with 12 smashes.
Francis Marion is under the guidance of first-year head coach Lauren Baufield for a team that returned six letterwinners, including four starters and the libero, from last year's 16-13 squad that tied for fourth during the Peach Belt Conference regular season and advanced to the semifinals of the PBC Tournament.
From a numbers standpoint, the Patriots are in the middle of the league in nearly every category. A .145 attack clip puts the group in the bottom half of the nation as does a .185 opponent's kill percentage. They have only registered a hitting percentage above .170 twice in 2017.
The top option on the pins is Georgia Garrison who is second in the PBC in swings per set at 10.36. The junior is fourth in kills per game with 3.47 and has five double-doubles on the year. Garrison also has two matches with at least 20 kills including 25 in a four-set win over Augusta on Sept. 15.
Fans of the school and volleyball enthusiasts can pull up a chair and enjoy the broadcast on the Eagle Sports Network each evening by visiting cneagles.com/live 15 minutes prior to the first serve.
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