Ballard and Oldenburger open 2019 on preseason All-SAC squads

VIDEO: Morgan Ballard Interview

VIDEO: Megan Oldenburger Interview

ROCK HILL, S.C. – For a second-straight season, Morgan Ballard begins a year as a preseason first-team All-South Atlantic Conference member and Megan Oldenburger is on the second unit the league announced Friday.

Only Queens and Anderson with three posted more players on preseason all-conference lists as the Eagles put multiple players on the list for a second year in a row.

Entering her senior season, Ballard has registered 1,603 digs, good for fifth in the history of the program. To establish a new program record she would need 948 but should firmly cement herself at No. 2.

The first-team AVCA all-region honoree has the most digs in conference history in a three-set match and a four-set match while tallying two of the top three efforts in five frames. She is one of two players in program history to be an all-region pick twice in her career and can become the only player to be lauded three times in 2019.

"With every little thing whether it is passing, serving even setting from the back row, anything that I can do to improve my skills even just a little bit," Ballard said. "Everyone on the team is working to improve themselves individually so that we collectively as a team can improve together.

"It's all about the team. We all have our own individual goals but when we are on the court together, we all have one goal. We all have one vision. We know what we want to do as a team. That's just going to help us improve. While the team is improving, we are all going to get better individually."

A year ago, she took her game up a notch in 2018 garnering all-region honors from the AVCA and D2CCA. Of the nine individuals to earn all-region honors in C-N history, Ballard joins Nikki James as the only Eagles to be on a list twice in their careers. The first-team All-South Atlantic Conference selection made the top league squad for the second consecutive campaign becoming the sixth player in program history to be on the top team twice in a career and first since Katie Troyer did so in 2008 and 2009.

The Weaverville, N.C. native finish the year with 784 digs and 7.61 digs per set to rank among the nation's best. The total digs were good for third in school history while she became the first Eagle to post at least seven scoops per set. She recorded her third-career 50-dig night with 51 against the Bears on Oct. 5, the second-most in a Division II match this year. The Eagles picked up a win in five frames as the team racked up a season-high 129 digs. Bloomsburg's Alyssa Cianciulli had 52 in four sets against West Virginia Wesleyan on Sept. 8. Ballard tallied her 1,000th dig for her career, including her time at Wofford (106), in a five-set loss to Lander on Sept. 7, 2018. In the third set against Coker on Sept. 22, 2018, the junior picked up her 1,000th scoop at C-N.

After being on the All-Freshman team a year ago, Oldenburger joined teammate Marnie Streeter as the only two Eagles to be on an all-conference team as a sophomore after being one of the top rookies the year prior. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native stuffed the stat sheet ranking sixth in the SAC with 2.99 kills per set and ninth total smashes with 302, adding 33 aces and 3.54 digs per set.

"With every season, every player wants to get better," Oldenburger said. "Knowing this season that I am a target for teams and that I have to be the best for my team it helps keep me motivated. The rest of my team pushes me every single day to be who I am is what motivates me.

"Every season I want to be better. During preseason, we are working on fundamentals and making sure that those are in place before we get to the next step. There is a process in learning with volleyball in taking every step we can that with the depth that we have this year, that's what pushes me to be where I want to be this year."

On the year, she produced 17 double-digit kill efforts leading the team 14 times, 20 matches with at least 10 digs and a team-high 14 double-doubles. It is the most double-doubles for an outside hitter since Molly Locke registered 18 over 36 matches in 2015. In a sweep of Emmanuel on Sept. 1, Oldenburger notched a career-high .419 hitting clip pounding out 15 kills in the match. It was one of six outings where she notched at least 10 kills with a .250 attack percentage or better. On Oct. 26 against Catawba, the sophomore had 18 kills, 17 digs and a career-high four service aces while hitting .357.

The season starts in two weeks for coach Dave Franklin's flock as the Eagles start the year with three matches in two days in Harrogate, Tenn. The first match of 2019 is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sept. 6 against King.

First Team
Emily Conlin, Anderson
Rachel Alles, Wingate
Rylee Storms, Lincoln Memorial
Taylor du Bray, Coker
Casey Tarvin, Queens
Sally Anne Johnson, Mars Hill
Hailee Wilhelm, Anderson
Morgan Ballard, Carson-Newman (L)

Second Team
Megan Oldenburger, Carson-Newman

Zoe Dinkins, Newberry
Taylor Prall, Lenoir-Rhyne
Regan Duty, Anderson
Logan Witt, Queens
Jaclyn Denny, Lenoir-Rhyne
Emily Walter, Lincoln Memorial
Ciara Kain, UVa-Wise
Jaycee Jones, Queens (L)

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