JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – To officially mark the midpoint of the season, Carson-Newman hits the road for a short jaunt to Tusculum Tuesday evening for a 7 p.m. first serve from Pioneer Arena in a South Atlantic Conference affair.
The Eagles find themselves in a similar spot compared to the 2017 season when the team opened the year 7-6 through 13 matches and 8-10 before turning their game up a notch. C-N won six straight matches and ripped off nine of 12 down the stretch to cement its spot in the NCAA Tournament.
"We need to find consistency," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "We are having good sets and bad sets. If we are able to string our good sets together, we are going to come out victorious. We are working out little things. Our kids have been grinding. We keep finding new details to work on. For us, it's important to stay the course. Things will turn and we will get more consistent. We will get on a streak and be willing to persist and have the courage to persist."
While Tusculum leads the all-time series history 32-27, Carson-Newman has won six of the last nine meetings including a four-set win at Holt Fieldhouse on Nov. 14, 2017 in the SAC Tournament Quarterfinals.
Megan Oldenburger, Katie Parnell and Marnie Streeter combined for 46 kills on the night. Parnell finished the evening with a career-high 15 kills while hitting .323. Oldenburger pounded out a match-high 16 kills and hit .245 in the contest with nine digs while matching a career-high with 2.5 blocks. Streeter had 15 kills and 15 scoops for her seventh double-double of the season.
Tusculum tallied 71 points to slide into the sixth slot of the SAC preseason poll. The Pioneers graduated five seniors including star setter Shannon Murphy but the top option on the pin, Cassie Born, and libero Melissa Mazur return.
Only 10 teams have a longer active losing streak that the Pioneers as the unit has lost 10 straight since winning both matches on Aug. 31 having won a total of six sets during that stretch. Six of the outings have lasted the minimum three frames going to five sets at Newberry on Sept. 22 and against Belmont Abbey on Sept. 1.
Coach Michael Robinson's team is one of 30 programs around America that have been shutout in the win column during league play. The Pioneers have lost eight straight against the SAC since winning at Newberry on Nov. 3 in straight sets. However, the team has lost 12 of the last 13 against the league with eight of those coming in three sets.
From a statistics standpoint, Tusculum ranks last in the conference in 10 categories including hitting percentage (.117) and service aces (1.23). Take out a .385 clip to open the year and the Pioneers have not hit above .170 as a team in any match this year. On five occasions, the group has hit below .100 as the unit posted a .097 percentage in September.
The team's best area in terms of stats comes from the block as the unit is seventh with 1.72 per set on the year. In a two-match stretch at the start of the year, the club combined for 24 total rejections. Subtract that sequence and the team has a total of 50, five per match, in the other 10 outings of the year.
Melissa Mazur continues to be a steady influence as the team's libero ranking sixth in the league and 31st in the nation with 5.49 digs per set on the year with seven matches of at least 20.
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