C-N grasps first win of season in Saturday split

VIDEO: Kelly Hughes Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — The Carson-Newman beach volleyball team opened its first home tournament of the season with a loss to Tusculum before gaining its first win in over two years at the C-N Sand Courts on Saturday.

Before Saturday, the Eagles (1-13) had not seen a victorious match since March 18, 2017 when they took down the University of Tennessee at Martin, 5-0. This time, the Eagles took a 5-0 sweep against Eastern Kentucky (0-8). Each C-N pairing sealed a win over the Colonels in the nightcap.

The day opened with a loss for C-N at the hands of Tusculum (6-9), the third defeat it has suffered to the Pioneers this season. Pioneers were able to snag another 5-0 win over the Eagles, the second in as many match-ups. The two teams last faced off in Wilmington, N.C. at the Dig and Dive Invitational just a week ago.

"The day went awesome," Director of Volleyball Dave Franklin said. "We came into the day with a new definition of success and understanding that we must develop winning habits. We had a great week of practice learning to change our communication and focus levels. Those things were on display today and, while not perfect, were much improved and will help us in the future as we continue to develop these winning habits."

Match 1: Tusculum 5, C-N 0

Taryn Nichols and Lexy Headly opened the weekend up at the No 5 position. The first set fell in favor of the Pioneers with a close 21-19 finish, but Katelyn Weems and Jordan Zaleski carried their intensity into the second set to end the game 21-9.

At the No. 4 spot, Montgomery Sauter and Lauren Williams nearly matched the scores of the prior match, but also lost 21-19, 21-8 to Lydia Collin and Catherine Clingan.

The No. 3 flight was a strong match-up of Aryana Fazleina and Kelly Hughes against Tusculum's Marissa Morgan and Lana Vujosevic. The C-N duo fell in the first set 21-16, but brought an intense finish to the second set. Both pairings forced the set into extra points but the Pioneers took the second set 25-23, giving them the outright win on the day with a 3-0 lead.

Grace Seymour and Morgan Siwiec were taken down in back-to-back sets at the No. 2 position. Skyellar Hall and Gabby Gray dominated the match 21-13, 21-17.

The No. 1 grouping of Summer Coulter and Abby Struewing lost their first set 21-11. They fought back in the second set but ultimately lost to Melissa Mazur and Haley Davis 21-15.

Match 2: C-N 5, Eastern Kentucky 0

Lexy Headly and Taryn Nichols kicked off the second match of the day with a positive outcome at the No. 5 seed. The C-N pairing destroyed Natalie Burchesky and Annie Cvelbar in the first set 21-10. The Colonels group brought the heat in the second set to defeat the Eagle's 21-19, forcing a third set. The third set fell in favor of Headly and Nichols, 15-11.

"It was intense to see them [Lexy Headly and Taryn Nichols] fight," Kelly Hughes said. "It really pumped us all up that they fought that hard, so we needed to fight that hard and get a win as well."

At the No. 4 spot, Sauter and Williams won a tight first set battle 22-20 against Rachel Woody and Kennedy Wilson. The C-N tandem carried their energy into the second set and defeated the Eastern Kentucky pair 21-11. Their two-set victory moved Sauter and Williams to 4-6 on the year, all as the fourth-seed.

Kelly Hughes and Aryana Fazelina swept Maria Ferragonio and Kaylin Johnson at the No 3. position 21-16, 21-13 to bring C-N's winning tally to 3-0 to hold the victory heading into the final two flights. In matches played at the three-spot this year, the duo sits at 3-5.

The No. 2 duo of Seymour and Siwiec lost the first set 21-14, but turned things around in the second set to win 21-11. The C-N group beat Sydney Schoen and Caserma-Kloeble in a third set thriller, 15-10.

Coulter and Struewing closed the day out with an exhilarating three set win over Dena Tekavec and Jovana Bulatovic. The C-N pair lost the first set 21-11, but crushed the Colonels twosome 21-12 in the second set. Both groups forced the set into extra points, but C-N came out on top with a 16-14 decision.

"The mindset going into tomorrow's matches will be the same as it was today, grow our winning habits and improve our culture among our partners and our team as a whole," Franklin said. "We know we are building this for the long term and our focuses must stay small and keep ourselves to the grind."

The Eagles are back in action again at home on the C-N Sand Courts tomorrow afternoon for two more matches, starting with a match against Eastern Kentucky at noon and Tusculum at 3 p.m. Live scoring for the matches will be provided throughout the afternoon at cneagles.com/livestats.