JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After taking advantage of its home floor, Carson-Newman hits the road to face the last remaining undefeated team in the country, Wingate, Friday night at 7 p.m. and Coker on Saturday at 2 p.m. in South Atlantic Conference action.
Friday evening is the 64th all-time meeting against the Bulldogs as Wingate is in firm control 49-14 and 24-5 inside of Cuddy Arena. While the Eagles have lost eight straight and 33 of the last 34, the last win for C-N came on the road on Nov. 4, 2014 when the school took down the seventh-ranked team in the country in five frames, the last SAC team to win at Cuddy Arena.
"They're the best passing team in the region," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "It's impressive to watch them on film. To compete against them you realize how much they control the ball. It's going to start from the service line for us. When they came here, we were able to tie the serve and pass game based on statistics. We are going to have to win that."
In the first outing this year, Wingate pushed its winning streak to 14 matches at Holt Fieldhouse with a sweep. Phoebe Havenaar registered 10 kills on 15 swings for a .667 attack percentage and Sophie Schaff added 10 kills of her own. No one on the home side of the net had double-digit kills being held to a .120 attack margin.
Despite being the final unbeaten team in the country, coach Shelton Collier's unit is not ranked nationally coming in at No. 27, 35 points of 25th-ranked Barry. Wingate is one of three teams without a loss in the country as Division I programs No. 6 Pittsburgh and No. 1 BYU have yet to suffer a setback. The Cougars play Thursday night against a 15-4 Loyola Marymount club.
After beating Coker on Tuesday night, the Bulldogs have won 19 straight SAC regular-season matches dating back to a four-set loss at Queens on Oct. 24, 2017. The string is 30 straight home wins, the third-longest mark behind Nebraska-Kearney's 65 and Cal St. San Bernardino's 34 since a four-set loss to fifth-ranked Wheeling Jesuit on Oct. 1, 2016.
The Bulldogs continue to be a strong defensive unit ranking second in the country in hitting percentage yielded at .092 while pacing the SAC in hitting percentage, .238, and kills per set, 14.46. Havenaar leads the league with a .355 margin posting 3.33 kills per set.
Saturday is the 12th all-time affair against Coker with the Eagles holding a 9-2 margin with both losses coming in 2016. The first meeting this year required five sets but C-N came out on top. Morgan Ballard joined C-N's 1,000-dig club with a match-high 39 digs. In the eight losses prior to 2018, the Cobras had won two sets being swept six times.
"We really shouldn't have to movement them too much," Franklin said. "We talked about what we have to do in the second half of conference to keep our goals alive. They know the value of each match. The name on the jersey isn't going to matter. That team brought it in our gym last time."
The Cobras have lost eight of their last 10 matches with six of the being in straight sets after starting the year with a 7-1 record winning four neutral site efforts. As a club, it is blocking 1.42 per set, 231st in the country, allowing a .183 opponent's attack percentage.
Taylor Du Bray leads the SAC with 3.79 kills per set needing over 11 swings per set to get to that total. She and Olivia Cerick each had 19 kills in the first match with 13 and 18 digs respectively. Lana Strejcek added 14 and Rami Mullen had 45 assists and 17 digs.
Friday's match will be on ESPN3 by using the app or watchespn.com with the necessary credentials while Coker will provide video for Saturday's match. Following @CNathletics will provide the most up-to-date information.
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