JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With seeding on the line against two teams directly above it in the standings, Carson-Newman hits the road to conclude the regular season against South Atlantic foes Lenoir-Rhyne Friday night at 7 p.m. and Mars Hill Saturday at 2 p.m.
"Two big matches ahead," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "It's too late to look back. If we can make a change in practice, we have a chance to put ourselves in position to host the first round. We have a chance so that is where we going to put our energy.
"It has to be motivating to think we can make those changes and make them quickly. The coaching staff is going to scout and our whole energy is going to be on Lenoir-Rhyne. We will get through that match and then shift over. We don't have any other option at this point and we have to go get better."
Carson-Newman enters the final weekend of league action in sixth and can finish no worse than seventh in the standings. With two wins over, the Eagles would finish fourth and host a match in the SAC Quarterfinals on Tuesday whereas a split would mean the fifth or sixth spot on the ledger and travel for the first round.
The first time the Eagles tangled with Lenoir-Rhyne they produced 13 blocks in a thrilling five-set victory to improve to 35-27 in the all-time series. C-N has won three of the last four in Hickory as each of the last two have needed five.
Marnie Streeter finished with her third double-double of the year with 12 kills and 21 digs and Megan Oldenburger finished with 11 kills and 15 digs. Morgan Ballard recorded her third-career 50-dig night with 51 out of the back row, the second-most in a Division II match this year.
A trio of Bears reached double digits as well as Angelica Arroyo had a match-high 17 kills but made 10 hitting errors. She added 14 digs. Jaclyn Denny had 13 smashes and Hannah Houston added 11.
After rattling off four consecutive wins, the Bears have suffered setbacks in four sets to both Tennessee schools in their last two times to the floor. A five-match road trip ends as the team wraps up its season on Friday night.
L-R is in the middle of the pack in almost every category from a stats perspective ranking 10th in the league in digs per set at 17.56. The group performs better at home where it is 7-2 hitting .222, a clip that is nearly 60 points higher than the road efforts. It posted nearly a kill better in October than it did during the first full month of the year.
Helen Hamilton runs the show as the setter ranking third in the league with 10.17 assists per set. In the first meeting, she dished out 47 aces to go along with 10 digs, four aces and 2.5 rejections.
Mars Hill needed just three games to dispatch of the Eagles on Oct. 6 piling up 10 service aces and pounding out a .246 hitting clip as the Lions have won four of the last six meetings but trail 38-23 in the all-time series.
Ballard tallied a match-high 39 digs adding to her 58- and 28-dig efforts against the Lions a year ago. Neither team had a player finish in double figures in kills with Sally Anne Johnson and Maddie Spurgeon leading all players with nine.
The Lions had lost six in-a-row before a sweep of Coker and a four-set win over Tusculum on the road in their last two trips to the floor before Saturday's season-ending effort.
Mars Hill is second in the country with 21.56 digs per set, behind only USC Aiken's mark of 21.86. That number goes above 25 in home matches as 12 overall outings this year have required at least 80 scoops.
Johnson's 2.52 kills per set leads the team while ranking 20th in the conference. She is hitting .302 and racking up 1.14 rejections per game to rank third in each category.
Both matches will have video streams and stats available. Follow @CNathletics on Twitter for the latest details and to stay locked on the weekend.
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