JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman returns to Holt Fieldhouse Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. first serve against Tusculum to begin a four-match swing of home matches to wrap up the home slate in South Atlantic Conference regular-season action.
Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) enters Tuesday night needing four digs to move into fifth place on the school's all-time digs list as Melissa Miller's tally of 1,393 from 2003-06 is next in line. She is on the fast track to another strong single-season tally. If she hits her average of 7.72 digs per set against the Pioneers, the junior's year tally would move her into seventh on Tuesday and is on pace to reach the top five for a single year by the end of the regular season.
Carson-Newman (11-10, 7-7) is looking to sweep the regular season series with Tusculum (4-16, 2-12) for the fourth time since the start of the 2006 season, doing so in 2009, 2014 and 2015. With a win, the Eagles would win a third straight over the Pioneers for the third time in that span doing so in three straight from 2008-09 and the four in-a-row in 2014-15.
After the Eagles won in straight sets on Oct. 2, the all-time series sits at 32-28 in favor of the Pioneers while each team has won 14 times at Holt Fieldhouse since the series opened in 1990. C-N has won seven of the last 10.
Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.) led the roster in the first meeting with 12 kills and Megan Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) piled up 10 kills and 12 digs to help the club rack up a .248 attack margin, the third-highest of the season.
Tusculum made as many attack errors, 26, as it had kills. Gabby Gray had eight kills but seven hitting errors and Emily Lawless led the team with 25 assists and seven digs.
After suffering a 13-match losing streak following a 2-0 start to the season, the Pioneers have won two of their last five outings including a four-set victory over Newberry at home on Saturday. The only road win for Michael Robinson's unit came in five sets at Catawba on Oct. 12. Five of the club's six road losses have been in straight stanzas.
Putting the ball away continues to be an issue for the roster hitting .124 in SAC matches ranking at the bottom of the table and in the bottom third of the country in the category. With that being said, the Pioneers have hit above .200 in each of their last two matches after having one such contest through the first 18 contests of the year.
Tusculum ranks at the bottom of the league in 10 statistical categories with its strongest area being blocking. With 1.71 per set on the year, it is seventh in the SAC and Carli Pigza ranks eighth with 0.90 per game. While the roster has produced three matches of double-digit blocks, there are also three matches with two or fewer including the first contest between the two schools.
No player ranks in the top 10 in the league in kills per set as Gray paces the group with 2.72, good for 14th. She has had just one match with at least 10 kills in the last eight games, notching 16 in a five-set win at Catawba on Oct. 12. Her three best efforts in SAC play have come on the road with 23 kills at Newberry and 13 at Mars Hill in September.
Tuesday evening's affair will be broadcast for free on cneagles.com/live as the Eagle Sports Network provides the sights and sounds.
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