Lady Eagles can't hold early lead in loss to Tusculum, 3-1
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Sam Underwood recorded 14 kills, 13 digs and three blocks as the Tusculum volleyball team rallied from a set down to defeat arch-rival Carson-Newman 3-1 Tuesday night at Pioneer Arena in South Atlantic Conference action.
Tusculum (16-9, 9-6 SAC) won the match by scores of 16-25, 25-23, 25-20, 27-25 to snap a five-match losing streak. The Pioneers complete the season sweep over the Eagles as TC remains in fourth in the league standings.
Freshman Megan Hasse had an outstanding match as she recorded a double-double with 15 kills, 10 digs and a pair of blocks. Rookie Taylor Boone finished with six kills and six blocks, while setter Ashley Sarmiento dished out 49 assists to go along with her six kills and a team-high .417 hitting percentage (6-1-12).
Tusculum libero Caitlyn Dean directed Tusculum's defensive efforts as she posted a match-high 36 digs on the evening.
C-N right-side hitter Carly Swisher led the Eagles (14-12, 5-10 SAC) with a dozen kills and two blocks, while Rachel Harper finished with 12 kills, 16 digs and two blocks. C-N middle-hitter Nikki James, the NCAA Division II's top blocker, added to her nation's best tally as she accounted for eight blocks on the night, including three solos. James also posted 11 kills, while setter Kristen Pickett added 32 assists for the Eagles.
Carson-Newman jumped out of the gate in the opening set to take a 13-8 lead following blocks by James and Lauren Santarelli and a TC ball handling error. TC trimmed the deficit to 13-10, but C-N went on a 5-1 run that to take an 18-11 advantage en route to winning the frame 25-16. Carson-Newman hit a blistering .355 in the set, while Tusculum was limited to a .106 attack percentage.
In the second set, Tusculum utilized a 9-3 run to take a 15-9 lead following blocks by Underwood and Boone. Carson-Newman answered with an 11-2 spurt to take a 20-17 lead, sparked by two kills from Swisher. TC answered with four straight points, including back-to-back service aces by Bailee Price and kills from Hasse and sophomore Kassie Voelker to take back the lead at 21-20.
C-N got the lead back at 23-22 following a service error and an attack error by Tusculum. But the Pioneers captured the final three points of the set, including consecutive kills by Underwood as TC prevailed 25-23.
Tusculum trailed 8-5 in the third set, but used a 7-0 run to move ahead 12-8 following an Underwood kill. It would be a lead the Pioneers would not surrender for the remainder of the set en route to a 25-20 win.
The fourth-set was a nail-biter that included eight ties and three lead changes. Tusculum took it biggest lead of the set at 20-14 following a 4-0 run that included a kill and a block by Price. Carson-Newman would chip away at the deficit, but TC answered to take a 24-20 advantage thanks to a solo block by Boone.
But Carson-Newman fought off four match points and tied the set at 24-24 on a Santarelli kill. But Boone came through with a kill and a block assist on the final two points of the match to win the frame, 27-25.
Carson-Newman is the nation's top team in blocks per set, averaging 2.25 per frame. C-N finished with nine total team blocks on the night (3 solos, 12 assists). Tusculum matched that exact total with nine of its own (3 solos, 12 assists).
Price added 12 kills, nine digs and two blocks in the win for the Pioneers.
Carson-Newman returns to action on Thursday against Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn. Tusculum returns to action this weekend for a pair of matches in South Carolina. On Friday, the Pioneers travel to Anderson for a 7 p.m. match, followed by Saturday's 1 p.m. contest at Newberry.