JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Mars Hill produced 10 service aces, the most allowed by Carson-Newman this year, and a .246 hitting percentage to take down the Eagles 25-19, 25-16 and 25-15 in South Atlantic Conference action Saturday evening at Holt Fieldhouse.
"This is one of those days where I believe in giving respect to your opponent where respect is due," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "That's a high quality opponent. Their record is really high. They're winning a lot of matches. They are in every match they're playing. They understand what wins a volleyball match and they executed really well.
"We just couldn't seem to get over the hump. If you play 30 matches, you are going to have a match where the other team has their A-game and you don't and it just goes bad. Today was one of those days."
Having won four of the last six meetings in the series, Mars Hill (13-4, 7-2) has won six straight matches and seven straight regular-season road affairs. Carson-Newman (9-7, 5-4) loses back-to-back efforts against the Lions for the first time since 2011-12.
The Lions never trailed in the opening game winning each of the first four rallies of the evening. After C-N pulled within one at 5-4, the visiting group scored three straight to regain the bulge. The Eagles were within two at 13-11 when Mars Hill ripped off seven in-a-row to take control. A kill from Maddie Spurgeon capped a first set where the Lions hit .244.
It was another ominous start to the second stanza as the Lions won the first three points of the frame. The Eagles pulled within one at 4-3 only to see Mars Hill rattle off six straight to go on top 10-3. C-N was never able to put a big dent in the game hitting .024 as a group in the game.
For the first time all night the Eagles captured a lead to ignite the third set winning the first two points. The last time C-N led came at 3-2 as Mars Hill broke a 4-4 tie with three straight rallies. It stayed close but at 11-9, the Lions reeled off a 13-5 spurt to get to match point. After a kill from Joy Rhodes (Youngsville, N.C.), Maddie Spurgeon hit a ball down the line for a kill to win the match.
On the night, Mars Hill produced a .246 hitting clip on 43 kills with 10 aces, six blocks and 76 digs compared to a .124 mark on 28 smashes, one ace, six blocks and 75 scoops.
Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) had another big night as C-N's libero with 39 digs to lead all players on the night. Elena Vasquez (Riverside, Calif.) had 15 assists and seven scoops while Megan Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) finished with eight kills and 11 digs.
No one finished in double figures in kills for either side as Sally Anne Johnson and Spurgeon led all players with nine kills.
Sara Pasour finished the game with 23 assists and 12 digs and Ully Martins led the back line with 20 digs.
After a couple days off, the Eagles hit the road for a Tuesday affair up the road at Lincoln Memorial at 7 p.m. Stay tuned to cneagles.com and @CNathletics on Twitter for the latest on the volleyball program.