JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman Eagles (24-5, 19-2 South Atlantic Conference) defeated the Anderson (S.C.) Trojans (22-7, 15-6 SAC) in four sets 25-20, 25-27, 25-16 and 25-23 Friday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
"We played incredible defense," head coach Dan Ahiers said. "We dug a lot of balls tonight. We stuffed some balls tonight, but even better our block did a good job of slowing balls down to make it easier for our defense."
The initial set was tight through the early portions with Carson-Newman holding a 12-10 lead before reeling off eight of the next 10 rallies to take a 20-12 lead. It was a lead that the Eagles would keep as freshman outside hitter Kyrie Pennington (Charlotte, N.C.) ended the set with a kill. Senior setter Kristen Pickett (Cleveland, Tenn.) dished out 15 assists to help her team hit .302 led by senior middle blocker Jenna Wilson's (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) six kills.
The second stanza featured 11 ties and seven lead changes. The home group took four of the first five rallies before the visitors grabbed seven of the next nine. Carson-Newman had three set points after taking 24-22, but Anderson was able to stay alive and knot the match at one. Senior outside hitter Rachel Harper (Chattanooga, Tenn.) led all players with eight kills.
Like the first set, the third frame was close at the beginning with the score deadlocked at seven before Carson-Newman went on a 7-1 run capped by a kill from Wilson. The Trojans pulled within four points at 20-16 before Ahiers took a timeout. Four kills helped the Eagles seal the set with Pennington's eighth kill giving the Eagles the victory. Anderson was held to a .000 attack percentage in the set.
Carson-Newman surged out of the gate winning seven of the first nine points. Anderson was able to come back and tie the game seven times, but a Harper kill gave the Eagles the match win.
Wilson led all players with a career-high 21 kills on a .436 attack percentage to go along with three block assists and a solo block.
"A big word we have been centering the season around is respect," Wilson said. "We're just working to gain everyone's respect because people are still second-guessing us, but we came out tonight and really proved ourselves."
Pickett fell one assist shy of a career-high with 57 helpers as well as six digs, five kills and two service aces.
Harper picked up her 11th double-double of the year with 16 kills and 15 digs with three service aces.
Pennington had her second double-double in as many games with 11 kills and 13 digs while setting a new career-high with two service aces.
Anderson was led by Kendall Vallancourt's 16 kills and five digs while Hailey Pittman had 12 kills.
Carson-Newman finalizes its regular season Saturday afternoon against the Newberry Wolves at 3 p.m. at Holt Fieldhouse. Fans can catch the game on cneagles.com/live with commentary from Mattias Ozblarto.
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