JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – In a battle of fifth-place teams, Carson-Newman makes the short journey up the road to square off against Lincoln Memorial in South Atlantic Conference action Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.
"We are still in a position where we can accomplish what we want," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "It's the time of year where you naturally start looking at the end and at the journey at the same time. We just have to look at the journey. If we are looking at the end with one eye then we are not fully dialed in."
Tuesday evening is the 48th all-time meeting between Carson-Newman and Lincoln Memorial with the Railsplitters holding a 30-17 advantage. In 2017 when the clubs met at Mary Mars Gym, the Eagles won in five sets 29-27, 18-25, 25-15, 21-25 and 15-11 to become the fourth SAC school to win 200 conference matches. It also snapped a seven-match losing streak on Tuesdays that extended nearly two years and a four-match skid to LMU.
After beating Tusculum and LMU on the road in 2017, C-N is trying to win four straight road matches against fellow Tennessee schools for the first time in the history of the program. Over a two-year span, 2014-15, the Eagles picked up three straight before losing in Harrogate on Oct. 27 in three games.
Coach Jenny Michael's team has been one of the best in the country at defending its home court this season. The 'Splitters had won eight straight home affairs prior to a four-set loss to league-leading Wingate on Saturday. Six of the eight wins had been sweeps while the other two required four frames. Since the start of 2015, the club is 34-12 inside of Mary Mars Gym versus an 18-26 mark in true road matches.
LMU has the best serve in the league this year averaging 1.87 aces per game this year. Four players rank in the top 20 in the conference in aces per set. In wins, the team is producing 2.19 per set versus 1.38 in the losses as it has four matches in with at least 10 on the year.
In the other stats, the Railsplitters are in the upper half of the league but the numbers skew heavily towards the success at home with the team producing twice as many blocks (2.42 to 1.20) at home than it does on the road while hitting .198 inside of the Harrogate facility against .152 away from home.
None of the LMU attackers are in the top 15 in the SAC in kills per set as freshman Emma Flowers leads the way with 2.67 on the season but has only four matches with double-digit kills and none since a Sept. 14 meeting against Queens.
Junior Rylee Storms has been the more consistent cog with 2.62 kills per set starting every match this year for the Railsplitters. She has been in double figures in five of her last nine, with three contests of nine smashes.
Erica Whiteaker is second in the SAC, top 10 in the country, in digs per set at seven per game, but nearly an entire scoop behind Ballard's 7.93 for the top mark in the league. The school's all-time leader in the category is 20 shy of 2,000 for her tenure. Whiteaker has seven matches on the year with at least 25 digs.
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