JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – October could be called moving month for Carson-Newman. The Eagles play 10 of their 12 matches inside of Holt Fieldhouse starting this weekend with South Atlantic Conference affairs against Queens Friday night at 7 p.m. and Catawba on Saturday at 5 p.m.
"I think it would be a critical period whether we were home or away," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "The good news is that we are in the critical period and we get to spend it at home. We have been playing better and better at home of late. What an opportunity that lies ahead of us. To take advantage of it, it is a cliché but it's true, we have to get better today. We have had that focus and it's been good this week. We are looking to continue that and make sure that we take advantage of the opportunity that lies in front of us."
First on the docket is Queens (8-3, 5-2) for the 16th rendition of the all-time series, a matchup that sees Carson-Newman (7-4, 5-3) hold a slight 8-7 edge overall but a more decisive 6-3 lead at Holt Fieldhouse. Despite the overall success, the Eagles have dropped five of the last seven.
Each team captured a four-set victory on their home floor a year ago. Outside hitters Megan Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.) dominated each outing producing 62 of the team's 96 kills with no fewer than 13 in either outing. The duo only made 19 errors on 200 overall attacks.
Queens had an up and down 2018 but could not duplicate its run from 2017 when it won the SAC Tournament at Holt Fieldhouse settling for a 14-15 overall record. Despite that finish, the Royals were picked to finish fifth and are led by first-team All-SAC Casey Tarvin on the outside. Tarvin registered 34 smashes last year against the Eagles and is sixth in the league in 2019 with 2.94 kills per set.
After opening the year 6-1, coach Hannah Long's team is 2-2 over its last four matches being swept by Wingate and at Tusculum. The Royals are 4-1 on the road this season with all four of its win coming in sweep fashion. On paper, the squad averages one more kill per set and is racking up 2.63 blocks per game in away affairs.
"When you look at their box scores and watch them play on film, they are very consistent," Franklin said. "They have a good identity and you have to bring it. They aren't going to hand you a ton. They're offensive especially in the middle. They can kill a lot of balls. I feel like it's a mirror image of what we are becoming. It looks like a good war on tap for Friday."
Queens is among the nation's best in several categories led by the sixth-best opponent's attack percentage yielding a .100 clip. It is fifth in the country in digs per set with 19.62, 33rd with 13.49 kills per game and 36th in Division II with 2.16 blocks per set.
As a whole, the club has the second-highest team hitting percentage this year at .208 having its lowest effort of .134 coming against Wingate posting a .200 clip or better four times.
The Eagles challenge Catawba (3-5, 2-5) for the 68th time trailing the series 37-30 but leading 15-13 in games played at Mossy Creek. C-N has won 10 of the last 12 during that stretch with six sweeps during that time. Oldenburger was the standout again for Franklin's crew with two double-doubles while producing 28 kills on a .319 hitting percentage.
Under the tutelage of first-year coach Patrick Nicholas, the club has played eight matches with six ending as sweeps and two needing four frames. The Indians are still producing the third-most kills per set with 13.31.
"Any time you run into an offensive team, the biggest key comes down to your service line," Franklin said. "Can you put them out of system and keep them from taking big swings? We have been focusing on defense for the last few weeks and block. Thankfully blocking is a strength of ours. We have to keep improving at it."
Sophomore Kylie Morgan leads the conference and ranks second in the country behind Clarion's Julia Holden with 4.74 kills per set boasting five matches with at least 16 blasts. She is hitting .277 which is a major step forward after tallying 13 kills and 18 attack errors against the Eagles last season.
Both match this weekend will be aired worldwide on your favorite streaming device by visiting cneagles.com/live for the live full high-definition video broadcast. Live stats can also be found by going to cneagles.com/livestats.
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