Ballard voted SAC’s top libero, Oldenburger on second team

VIDEO: Morgan Ballard Interview

VIDEO: Megan Oldenburger Interview

ROCK HILL, S.C. – For the second straight season, Morgan Ballard and Megan Oldenburger were honored by the South Atlantic Conference as the league announced its all-conference clubs Thursday. Ballard was a first-team selection and Oldenburger picked up a spot on the second squad marking the sixth straight year that Carson-Newman has had multiple honorees.

Ballard makes the first team for the second consecutive campaign becoming the sixth player in program history to be on the top team twice in a career and first since Katie Troyer did so in 2008 and 2009.

"It's really hard to make a jump from sophomore year to junior year," Ballard said. "I think that I have worked on the things that I've been needing to work on. It has shown and I couldn't do anything that I do without my teammates and my coaches, everyone around me, my family and support system. I think that has a very big impact on my motivation."

As of today, no player in the country has more digs than Ballard's 763 as her digs per set average is 7.63, good for second in the nation. Her season total currently sits in fourth on the school's list. Next on the ledger is Daphne Epting's margin of 765 from 1997.

The junior's average per frame would make her the first player to tally at least seven per set in a season as she holds the school record for a single season with 6.94 as a sophomore in 2017.

The Weaverville, N.C. native recorded her third-career 50-dig night with 51 against Lenoir-Rhyne on Oct. 5, the second-most in a Division II match this year. Bloomsburg's Alyssa Cianciulli had 52 in four sets against West Virginia Wesleyan on Sept. 8.

Overall on the year, Ballard has led the team in digs in 20 straight matches producing at least 20 scoops in all but four matches this year with 30 or more on 11 occasions. With a career total of 1,582, she sits in fifth on school's ledger behind Angelle Hayes's mark of 1,959 for fourth.

After being on the All-Freshman team a year ago, Oldenburger joins teammate Marnie Streeter as the only two Eagles to be on an all-conference team as a sophomore after being one of the top rookies the year prior.

"I think a lot of it is my teammates really pushing me and holding me to standards," Oldenburger said. "They held me to a pretty high standard with all of us coming in last year and I think this year it was even higher. Meeting that expectation for my teammates has helped to push me to be the player that I am."

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native has stuffed the stat sheet this season ranking fifth in the SAC with 2.99 kills per set and total smashes with 293, slotting 11th in service aces with 33 and placing 18th with 3.56 digs per set.

"I have three different games," Oldenburger said. "I have my passing game, my hitting game and my serving game. Separating those and making sure that if my serving game isn't there, my hitting game is still there. Balancing those three helps me stay calm and be able to do my job."

On the year, she has produced 17 double-digit kill efforts leading the team 14 times, 20 matches with at least 10 digs and a team-high 14 double-doubles. It is the most double-doubles for an outside hitter since Molly Locke registered 18 over 36 matches.

In a sweep of Emmanuel on Sept. 1, Oldenburger notched a career-high .419 hitting clip pounding out 15 kills in the match. It was one of six outings where she notched at least 10 kills with a .250 attack percentage or better. On Oct. 26 against Catawba, the sophomore had 18 kills, 17 digs and a career-high four service aces while hitting .357.

The duo will look to lead Carson-Newman to back-to-back SAC Tournament title matches for the first time in school history Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. against No. 24 Wingate from the DeLoach Center in Hartsville, S.C.

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