Furious comeback falls shy as Pioneers survive Eagles

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Down 2-0, Carson-Newman won the third and the fourth sets and held a 13-11 edge in the fifth only to concede the final five points of the day and fall to Tusculum 24-26, 14-25, 25-20, 25-19 and 13-15 Tuesday evening in South Atlantic Conference play.

Carson-Newman (11-11, 7-8) falls for a 20th consecutive match when trailing 2-0 in a match as Tusculum breaks a 14-14 record in the all-time series with the victory.

The Eagles fell behind early in the fifth but a 4-0 jaunt pushed the lead to 7-4. A similar sequence from the Pioneers tied the score at 10. Franklin's unit was able to get a 13-11 lead with Tusculum out of timeouts but the home group never won another point as Cassie Born's 16th kill of the night sealed the win.

After the teams flipped leads, the Eagles rattled off five straight points to go on top 6-2. C-N held the lead for the majority of the game only to give up four straight points and fall behind 24-22. Closing the door on two set points, the Pioneers won back-to-back rallies to close out the frame on the fifth ball handling error of the game spoiling a set where the Eagles had 8.5 blocks.

It was a nightmarish start to the second stanza as the Pioneers won 15 of the first 16 before putting it on cruise control. The Eagles had a late 5-0 spurt but Tusculum closed up shop on a frame where it hit .406 with 13 kills on and zero misfires on a smash by Cassie Born.

The third game saw eight ties and a 4-0 spurt by the Pioneers made it a 13-12 lead for the visitors. After a timeout, the Eagles rattled off a 9-3 sequence to go on top by five points before Natalie Harris (Monroe, N.C.) pushed one to the ground to keep her squad alive.

With a 10-6 lead in the fourth frame, the Pioneers rattled off four in-a-row- to deadlock the tally. As the two clubs traded points being tied at 13, C-N surged winning seven consecutive points to take control. A ball handling miscue by Carli Pigza ended the set and forced a fifth.

The loss spoils career nights from Taylor Rohr (Windsor, Colo.) and Katie Parnell (Atlanta). Rohr set a career high with 30 assists adding 12 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. Parnell reached double figures in kills for the second time in her career with 11 while tallying a new career best with 10 block assists and five digs.

Moving up on the school's dig list, Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) produced 35 digs to bring her career total to 1,425 and pass Melissa Miller for fifth on the school's ledger.

Megan Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) finished with a team-high 13 kills and had 21 digs while Erin Edwards (Midlothian, Va.) added 12 kills and had a career-high four total blocks.

Born led all players with 16 kills adding 21 digs as one of three players in double digits in kills. Aubrey Hawkins had 12 and Pigza had 10.

Alyssa Rojas produced 51 assists and 19 digs and Melissa Mazur piled up 30 scoops from the back line.

Tusculum finished the match with a .147 attack percentage racking up 59 kills, 108 digs, 11 service aces and eight rejections. Carson-Newman countered with a .188 margin 55 smashes, 105 scoops, seven aces and a season-high 13.5 rejections.

The Eagles keep the homestand rolling on Friday evening against Catawba for a 7 p.m. first serve from Holt Fieldhouse. Broadcast coverage can be found on the Eagle Sports Network by visiting cneagles.com/live

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