Lady Eagles Head to Salisbury for SAC Tournament, Face Host Catawba on Friday
JEFFERSON CITY — It's the volleyball postseason and that's when Carson-Newman College becomes more dangerous than ever. The Lady Eagles in recent years have made a habit of playing best when it's needed the most.
This year's squad will need to tap into that mojo early if they want to get past No. 5-seed Catawba College in the opening round of the South Atlantic Conference Tournament Friday in Salisbury, N.C. First serve is a 2:30 p.m.
"Somehow Carson-Newman always comes alive in November, C-N head coach Shannon Mincey said. "There's something special about the chemistry of this group that should make a difference in this tournament."
Chemistry, mojo, whatever it is, the Lady Eagles are going to need it. Already short-handed due to some preseason injuries, sophomore outside hitter Rachel Bowlin (Morristown, Tenn.) will now watch the tournament from the sidelines with an illness. Freshman setter Courtney Lawson (Chattanooga, Tenn.) will have to step into Bowlin's spot and play outside hitter for the first time in her young career. Luckily for Carson-Newman, they got to preview the new lineup last weekend at Brevard and at Lenoir-Rhyne. The Lady Eagles won both games, beating the Tornadoes 3-0 and the Lady Bears 3-2. Mincey knows her team leaders are up for the challenge.
C-N sophomore libero Angelle Hayes (Brentwood, Tenn.) knows that adversity is something that comes along with competing and the Lady Eagles can't make excuses.
"Every team is going to have challenges and obstacles they have to overcome," Hayes said. "We have a stone wall theme and aren't going to let anything go through our wall."
The wall will have to stop Catawba's leading scorers, Kaitlyn Whitmer and Shay Meeks. Whitmer is averaging 3.03 kills per game and Meeks has 2.88 per game. Carson-Newman and the Indians split their games this season, with Catawba taking the first one 3-0 in Salisbury and the Lady Eagles winning 3-0 in Jefferson City.
"Losing to Catawba in the beginning of the season was a wake-up call for us," Mincey said. "We were just going through the motions and weren't playing with energy. Catawba did a great job in slowing down the offense and lulling us into their tempo. Once we got them at home, we had the revenge factor."
Hayes knows that her team is prepared and ready to make another postseason run.
"We've studied a lot and worked on a couple of things," Hayes said. "Hopefully we've improved since we last played them. We're going to come out on fire and are ready to take as much as we can."
Catawba will be a tough challenge on their home court. Mincey and the team are excited to face it.
"Playing Catawba at Catawba is probably the worst draw you can get," Mincey said. "But it's exciting to be able to get a chance to put away the home team who's hosting."