ROCK HILL, S.C. – A trio of Carson-Newman players earned spots on the South Atlantic Conference's preseason all-league units announced Tuesday morning. Libero Morgan Ballard and outside hitter Marnie Streeter were slotted on the top squad while outside hitter Megan Oldenburger heard her name called on the second team.
This campaign marks the most individuals represented on preseason ledgers in the history of the school as the Eagles had a pair of players picked several times including most recently 2016 when Anna Patton and Natalie Harris were listed.
"Compared to last year we have already improved so much," Ballard said of the team. "We have extra time growing as a team together because we are coming back together. Everyone is fine-tuning details about their position and finding out to make it work together. We have raised our expectations. We have come up with some goals that we really want to achieve."
Ballard returns for her second season at Mossy Creek coming off of one of the best seasons by a libero in C-N history. She became the seventh player in program history to earn an all-region honor from the AVCA and first libero earning spots on the AVCA and D2CCA units. The Wofford transfer became the first Carson-Newman libero to be named first-team All-South Atlantic Conference since 2005 when Blaire Young was picked to the top unit for the second consecutive season as Ballard was the 23rd Eagle to earn first-team honor.
As a sophomore, the Tar Heel State native led the league in digs per set with 6.94 ranking third in the nation a mark that would be the top mark in the history of the program passing Young's tally of 6.79 in 2004. With 819 total digs on the year, Ballard was the SAC leader and ranked second nationally. The figure is good for second on the school's ledger, 37 behind Young's 856 in 2004.
Ballard registered the two highest dig tallies in Division II in 2017 highlighted by a league record 58 digs in a four-set victory over Mars Hill on Sept. 9, 2017 that was the 10th-most in the history of NCAA volleyball. The previous league mark was set by Jenny Young of Catawba versus Tusculum on Sept. 17, 2011 in a five-set outing. Caitlyn Dean held the mark for a SAC athlete in a four-set affair when she racked up 47 for the Pioneers against Anderson (S.C.) on Oct. 27, 2012. After recording 53 versus Augusta Oct. 14, the sophomore has three of the top six dig efforts in Division II in 2017. She had five matches with at least 40 scoops leading the team in passing 28 times.
"Last year was a really good year for me," Ballard stated. "There were a lot of numbers put up and all of the accolades and everything but that just means that I need to improve all the skills that I have already been able to achieve. Nothing is ever perfect in volleyball. That just means that I need to raise my standard."
Streeter has been a two-time all-conference selection in her career earning a spot on the All-Freshman roster in 2016 and a second-team nod in 2017. Her 3.74 kills per set were good for third in the league while she led the SAC with 408 kills. With 1,306 attacks and 11.98 swings per set, she led the conference and was in the top 35 nationally in each category.
The outside hitter was named the SAC Player of the Week twice in 2017 on Sept. 12 and Oct. 30. 2015 was the last time an Eagle was named the league's player of the week more than once when Molly Locke was thrice lauded and Sara Fairley garnered recognition twice.
Streeter crushed the ball as C-N began league play in September piling up 42 kills while hitting .244 against Tusculum and Mars Hill to earn her first weekly plaudit. She guided Carson-Newman to a trio of victories away from home to earn her second honor to help stretch the club's winning streak to six matches. Overall she posted 54 total kills, 4.2 per set, while hitting just shy of .200 with 23 digs and three blocks.
Overall for the season she racked up 20 matches with double-digit kills and produced nine double-doubles to bring her career tallies to 40 and 10 respectively.
"My goal is basically to play the best I can in the moment," Streeter explained. "I think last year I could be inconsistent at times in the moment and have one really good game and one not as good game. This year I want to play the best every night and do the best I can that night."
Oldenburger joins teammate Harris from 2015 and Streeter from 2016 in the line of three straight C-N athletes named to the All-Freshman unit. Only Streeter took more swings last year among SAC athletes than the rookie's 1,161.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native piled up 274 kills and 310 digs during her first campaign. She was second on the roster with 11 double-doubles, a number that leads the group of returners in terms of career totals. In four postseason matches, she had double-digit kills in three of them with tallied of 16, 17 and 18 recording a double-double three times.
In a five-set win over Augusta on Oct. 14, 2017, the outside hitter pounded out a career-high 21 kills on 99 swings. It was the second-most attacks in SAC history and 11th-highest in a five-set match in Division II history. The league record is 100 set by Brevard's Fatima Gharachorloo versus Lenoir-Rhyne on Oct. 27, 2015.
The season ignites in 10 days as C-N plays each of its first nine matches away from home starting with a trio of clashes in nearby Harrogate, Tenn. against Conference Carolinas opponents in a weekend tournament hosted by Lincoln Memorial.
2018 SAC VOLLEYBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE
Rachel Alles, Wingate
Anna Holmquist, Wingate
Morgan Ballard, Carson-Newman (L)
Taylor Henry, Queens
Phoebe Havenaar, Wingate
Cassie Born, Tusculum
Emily Conlin, Anderson
Marnie Steeter, Carson-Newman
Taylor du Bray, Coker
Sally Anne Johnson, Mars Hill
Kori Adams, Wingate (L)
Jayln Knight, Anderson
Casey Tarvin, Queens
Kathryn Hughes, Anderson
Megan Oldenburger, Carson-Newman
Taylor Prall, Lenoir-Rhyne
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