INDIANAPOLIS – In the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships for the eighth time, South Atlantic Conference Tournament champion Carson-Newman locked in the No. 3 seed in the Southeast Region announced by the NCAA Monday night. The Eagles will play sixth-seeded Anderson on Dec. 5 in Wingate, N.C. at the top-seeded Bulldogs' Cuddy Arena.
"It's been a ride," Carson-Newman coach Ashley Tiernan said. "I took about the beginning of October. My goal this year was to build their spirits and make sure that they had a really good experience for the rest of this year. Win or lose, it was what it was and we were going to go from there. It has turned into such a huge chemistry with this team. We have battled together and it turned out with a conference championship and here we are as the No. 3 seed in the region so we are really excited."
This year marks the fifth time this decade that the club has qualified for the national tournament and first in two years when the team was a seven seed falling in five sets to second-seeded Wingate in the Sunshine State. The No. 3 seed is the second-highest seed for the Eagles behind earning a No. 2 slot in 2008.
In four of the last five journeys to the NCAA Playoffs, C-N has won at least one match including a region title in 2015. That season, the Eagles defeated Armstrong State, Erskine and Lenoir-Rhyne en route to the National Quarterfinals.
Carson-Newman is playing in a regional at Wingate for the fifth time in program history doing so in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014. The Eagles have been the regional semifinals in each of the last three journeys.
Of the 13 matches that the program has played in the NCAA Tournament all time, six have come against teams from the league with C-N holding a 3-3 mark. Overall, the club is 6-7 in the national playoffs.
"It's a really awesome experience," senior setter Elena Vasquez said. "We have had a lot of adversity and a lot of hardships we have had to overcome this season. More than anything we wanted to go out with a bang and go out strong playing for each other. It's awesome that we get to continue this season with the rest of these girls."
With a match versus Anderson, the Eagles and the Trojans square off for the 28th time with C-N trailing 15-12. Three of those contests have come in the postseason, all in the SAC Tournament and each one requiring five frames. The lone neutral site affair in the history of the series came in the semifinals in 2014 in Hickory with Anderson taking home a victory.
The Eagles have won the last two postseason tilts, the 2015 opening round and the 2017 semifinal. The Trojans have seven of the last nine in the series including a pair of five-set wins this season. C-N has defeated every team in the league at least once this year with the exception of Todd Hay's crew.
On Saturday, Carson-Newman secured its third-ever SAC Tournament title sweeping Queens after beating Mars Hill in the first round and defeating 24th-ranked Wingate for the second time this year, the first time in history that the team has won two matches versus a ranked team in the same season. Only the Bulldogs and former member Presbyterian have hoisted more crowns in the league's history.
Over the last 19 matches, the Orange and Blue are 17-2 with a dozen sweeps on their resume losing a total 10 sets during the stretch. That sequence featured an eight-match winning streak in October that was the team's longest string since 2014.
Tiernan's team boasts three All-SAC picks led by first-team outside hitter Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.). She is nine kills shy of joining the program's top five all time sitting at 1,356 in her career posting 18 double-digit kill efforts on the season.
On the other pin, SAC Tournament MVP Erin Edwards (Midlothian, Va.) is on a tear with five consecutive double-digit kill efforts posting an attack percentage of .307 for the season, good for the fifth-highest total in a season in C-N history.
Libero Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) is coming off of a SAC record-breaking 40 digs in the title match upping her career tally at C-N to 2,291 moving past Taylor Lowe for second on the program's all-time list. The owner of two of the top three season totals in program history, Ballard's 688 are good for seventh in 2019.
Each of the top three seeds in the region are from the SAC with Wingate hosting a regional for the eighth time in the last 12 years and will play the champion of Conference Carolinas, Emmanuel in the opening round. Queens is in the same pod as C-N playing seventh-seeded Flagler. Augusta and USC Aiken play in the four versus five match after Aiken fell from second in the last region rankings.
The times have not yet been set for the games with ticket information and further details to come. Follow @CNathletics on Twitter for the latest updates on times and other information regarding the tournament.
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