‘Splitters spoil C-N’s 2017 home opener in comeback fashion

VIDEO: Dave Franklin Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After cruising through the first set, Carson-Newman saw Lincoln Memorial race back and win in four sets Tuesday evening at Holt Fieldhouse 11-25, 25-14, 26-24 and 25-19 in the Eagles home opener.

"Our execution dropped," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "We came about and executed at a really, really high level – that's why you get the first set score. We started off the second set decent and then it felt like our intensity dropped a little bit. The way we define intensity is an intentional focus. We had some mental lapses that I hadn't really seen. Give LMU credit they were able to fight and execute at a better level in the serve and pass game tonight."

Carson-Newman (5-3, 3-2) had won four straight lid-lifters at Holt and 11 consecutive sets dating back to its last loss against Francis Marion on Sept. 7, 2012 when the Patriots also overcame an early deficit to win in five sets.

Lincoln Memorial (5-3, 2-3) snapped a three-match losing streak as the Railsplitters have not lost four straight outings since the 2015.

For the fourth time in 2017, Anna Patton (Franklin, Tenn.) notched a double-double with 15 assists and 11 digs.

Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) tallied 19 digs and three service aces while Madison Rademacher (Broomfield, Colo.) handed out 14 helpers and picked up five digs.

Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.) paced the offense with nine kills on a .316 attack percentage while adding six digs and two aces.

Overall, C-N produced a higher hitting clip at .159 to .129 while recording more blocks with 12 to 10. LMU registered 90 digs to Carson-Newman's 75.

"I thought they did awesome," Franklin said of the front line. "Our blockers work hard at blocking and they were in the way. They were making them hit tough shots and making them work really hard to get kills. It's a huge positive for us. Volleyball comes down to serve and pass. We have the front row going. We have the defense going a little bit. Now we have to get the serve and pass game in place and good things are going to happen for us."

The first frame saw the Eagles tally 14 without an attack error on 30 swings compiling a .467 attack percentage. Five service errors by C-N aided the Railsplitters who hit minus-.033. Nine of the first 11 points went to the home group. An 8-1 run made it a 19-6 game as the Eagles closed out the first set on a kill from Parnell.

The two programs reversed roles in the second stanza as the 'Splitters could do no wrong making just a pair of attack errors while hitting .308 and limiting the Eagles to a .033 clip. Lincoln Memorial scored seven of the first eight points. C-N trimmed the deficit to four twice the rest of the set only to see its seventh attack error knot the match at one.

With eight ties and five lead changes, the third set was the only game that featured a lead change. LMU jumped out of the gates to take a 7-4 lead before the Eagles chiseled away and won five straight points to take a 12-9 edge. The lead reached 19-15 before the 'Splitters came back to tie the score at 21. The two sides traded punches before the visitors scored the final two points to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

"There are a lot of growth opportunities for our team," Franklin stated. "A lot of things to look at and a lot of emotions to deal with. Were we able to execute in pressure moments what we were able to execute in practice? As a coaching staff I think that's where we failed the team. I don't know if we have created enough situations in practice to be prepared for these moments. I have to go back to the drawing board and better prepare our team."

Lincoln Memorial held an early lead in the fourth set as the Eagles sliced the deficit to two points only to see the Railsplitters rattle off six straight points to take a 14-6 lead. C-N used a 7-1 surge to cut the deficit to 18-15 only to see its opponent score three in-a-row. After a long rally, Rylee Storms found the ground to seal the comeback.

Kiera Holland piled up 13 kills and 11 digs while Storms added 12 kill and 10 digs on the front row for coach Jenny Michael's group.

Samantha Cash handed out 38 assists adding 15 digs while Erica Whiteaker had 34 digs, five assists and five aces.

Carson-Newman continues its homestand Friday against Lenoir-Rhyne as the Bears come to town for a 7 p.m. first serve at Holt Fieldhouse. The outing will be aired on cneagles.com/live as the Eagle Sports Network provides wall-to-wall coverage.

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