DANCING! Elated Eagles elected to 2017 NCAA Playoffs

DANCING! Elated Eagles elected to 2017 NCAA Playoffs

VIDEO: Dave Franklin Interview

VIDEO: Anna Patton Interview

VIDEO: Team Celebration

Full NCAA Bracket

INDIANAPOLIS – For the third time in the last four seasons Carson-Newman is dancing as the Eagles are the No. 7 seed in the Southeast Region announced by the NCAA Monday evening. Coach Dave Franklin's group is in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships for the seventh time as an at-large unit and will play second-seeded Wingate Nov. 30 in St. Augustine, Fla. at top-seeded Flagler's facility.

"It feels amazing," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "I'm very, very proud of this group. This journey started at the end of last year. It started in the spring working on a culture. They have been really committed. They have pushed themselves and were able to win matches when they needed to."

In each of the program's last four journeys to the NCAA Playoffs, C-N has won at least one match. In 2015, the Eagles brought home their first region championship beating Armstrong State, Erskine and Lenoir-Rhyne en route to the National Quarterfinals.

It will be the second time that C-N squares off against Wingate in the NCAA Tournament with the other meeting coming in the second round on Nov. 21, 2009 at Wingate's Cuddy Arena. The Bulldogs picked up a sweep 25-22, 25-16 and 25-19. Wingate hit .389 as Lauren Billo led all players with 15 kills on a .423 hitting clip. Stormi Gale picked up 13 for coach Shelton Collier's group.

Carly Mozgai made just two attack errors with a team-high 10 kills. Stephanie Cutter handed out 24 assists to help the Eagles hit .253 as a unit. Jessica Schachleiter had nine kills and 11 digs.

It will mark the 62nd all-time meeting between the two programs and seventh on a neutral floor. Wingate holds the all-time lead 47-14 and holds a 5-1 mark in neutral contests. The lone victory for the Eagles came on Oct. 28, 2000 in the SAC semifinals as C-N won the league tournament for the first time.

Wingate is in the field for the 13th straight season after finishing second in the league's regular season and losing in the semifinals to Queens (N.C.). This season was the first time since 2005 that the Bulldogs did not claim a regular season or tournament title.

In 2017, Franklin's bunch finished the conference regular season fourth before making a run in the South Atlantic Conference Volleyball Championships. The Eagles ended Anderson's 22-match winning streak in the semifinals before finishing runner-up to Queens.

A trio of players earned accolades from the SAC led by first-team libero Morgan Ballard. The sophomore's 790 digs are second in the country and the second-most in the history of the program. Her 6.99 scoops per stanza is third in the nation and ranks as the best season in Eagle history.

Second-team All-SAC pick Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.) has 10 or more kills in 13 straight matches and is the SAC's leader with 393 smashes on the year an average of 3.78 per set.

Megan Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) was C-N's third straight member of the SAC All-Freshman team after recording nine double-doubles on the year and registering 2.46 kills and 2.79 digs per set.

Setter Anna Patton (Franklin, Tenn.) was a member of the 2015 Southeast Region title team and was named to the all-region team. The senior ranks third in the history of the school with 3,013 career assists.

"I think it says a lot about our team and the program and how far we have come," Patton assessed. "It shows how much we have improved which is awesome. The seniors and upperclassmen have been through the highs and lows. It feels great to be back in the tournament."

Flagler is the top seed in the region having won 19 consecutive matches and will host the region after winning the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. Barton will be the opponent for the Saints as the No. 8 seed and winner of the Conference Carolinas title.

A pair of SAC schools square off in the four versus five battle. Anderson, the regular season champions, will face fifth-seeded Queens, the tournament champions.

USC Aiken in the No. 3 seed and will challenge sixth-seeded Georgia College. The winner of that contest will take on the winner of the C-N and Wingate matchup in the region semifinal.

The times have not yet been set as the games will be played Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.. Follow @CNathletics on Twitter for the latest updates on times and other information regarding the tournament.

- CN -

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