JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After winning the first set, Carson-Newman fell short in the next three games as Queens celebrated its first league title in four sets 25-21, 24-26, 20-25 and 20-25 Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse in the South Atlantic Conference Volleyball Tournament.
"We couldn't hit the ball inbounds to be honest with you," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said of the difference. "We served it inbounds. I love how we have grown from the service line. We are doing great things from the service line. It just came down to us making too many hitting errors tonight. We had our chances but they executed at a little higher level. Give them credit I thought they did really good things."
Carson-Newman (17-14) has lost three straight title matches since its last victory in 2002 while Queens (23-7) earns its first ever league title and secures the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs.
The Royals are the sixth team in SAC history to win a title being a seed lower than one or two and win after falling in straight sets to Wingate in 2016.
Megan Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) paced C-N's offensive attack with 17 kills and 16 digs for her ninth double-double of the year.
One of two all-tournament team picks, Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.), had 11 kills and 11 digs but made 13 attack errors.
Anna Patton (Franklin, Tenn.) crossed the 3,000-dig threshold with 35 assists and 16 digs to bring her career tally to 3,003.
Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) was named to the all-tournament unit after producing 42 digs and five assists. The sophomore now has five matches with 40 or more scoops including two of her last three. She has registered 788 digs on the year to rank second in program history behind Blaire Young's 856 from 2004.
Franklin's group racked up six service aces in the opening set. After falling behind 2-1, C-N scored five straight to take a lead it would not relinquish. Despite eight ties, C-N responded with five of the final six after the score was deadlocked at 20. Fittingly an ace from Oldenburger gave the Eagles the upper hand after the opening game.
Sydney Kunz racked up three service aces as Queens opened the second stanza with the first four points. Following a 6-2 spurt C-N captured the lead at 7-6 as the clubs traded points. With a 10-10 knot, Carson-Newman won eight of the next 11 to go on top 18-13. Queens scored nine of 11 to go on top 22-20. After the Eagles fought off three set points, Jessica Raines stuffed Streeter to equalize the match at one.
The third game featured 11 ties as a 7-3 sequence for the Eagles put the team ahead 15-12 and force Hannah Long to call a timeout. Out of the stoppage, the Royals ripped off a 10-3 run to go on top 22-18. An attack miscue by Streeter capped the set and put the Royals on top 2-1.
The Eagles held the lead early in the fourth with a cushion of as many as three points. Queens tied the score four times down the stretch by C-N held the edge at 20-19. Franklin's team failed to win another point as the Royals won the final six points and seized the title on an attack error by Streeter.
Sydney Kunz piled up her 17th double-double of the season with 45 assists and 21 digs en route to MVP honors for the tournament.
Casey Tarvin was the lone Royal with double-digit kills with 19 to go along with 23 digs. Queens saw six players record kills with none tallying fewer than five on the day.
A quintet of athletes recorded double-digit digs as Jaycee Jones had 22, Lexie Dolecheck had 11 and Jordan Proszenyak finished with 10.
Each team recorded 108 digs as the Eagles were limited to a .086 hitting clip compared a .165 margin for Queens. C-N had nine blocks and the Royals countered with seven.
Franklin and his unit will turn their attention to the NCAA Selection Show scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday evening and will be aired on ncaa.com. Follow @CNathletics for the latest information regarding the Eagles who were ranked seventh in the final region rankings.
2017 SAC All-Tournament Team
MVP - Sydney Kunz, Queens
Alex Thompson, Queens
Casey Tarvin, Queens
Marnie Streeter, Carson-Newman
Morgan Ballard, Carson-Newman
Katie Bludau, Wingate
Marissa Mitter, Anderson
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