HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Erin Edwards registered 11 kills and a .455 hitting clip and Madison Rademacher had her third straight double-double but fourth-seeded Carson-Newman was eliminated in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament semifinals Friday afternoon at the DeLoach Center by top-seeded Wingate 19-25, 17-25 and 22-25.
"We lost to a great team today," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "I am very proud of the persistence of this group. When we left Coker, two weeks ago we could have folded up shop and let the season get away from us. Instead, our team responded and found a way to finish fourth in the conference and make it to the semifinals.
"We will learn from all of this and use it as an opportunity to get better this spring. I must grow as a coach. There were a lot of issues that stemmed from the top and that is unfortunate for a group of athletes who commit so much and work so hard. The changes will start at the top and we will become the program we envision."
In the 10th effort between the two clubs in the SAC Tournament, Wingate (28-1) wins for the ninth time stretching the winning streak to seven in the conference championship and 10 in the all-time series with Carson-Newman (16-13).
After winning the first two points of the day, the Eagles held a lead until 8-7 when the Bulldogs reeled off four straight to go on top 11-8. C-N would never tie the score again in the first pulling within one on two occasions. A late surge pushed the margin out as Wingate won eight of the final 12 to take the edge in the match.
The two clubs traded punched early as Wingate opened up a 12-9 margin only to see the Eagles win three in-a-row to tie the tally at 12. The Bulldogs promptly responded by taking four straight and closed out the game on a 13-5 spurt to take a stranglehold of the match.
In the third set, the Eagles fell behind 9-2 and at 10-3 found a jolt of momentum winning 10 of the next 11 to seize a 13-11 advantage. It was a set with seven ties and four lead changes as C-N held its last lead of the night at 14-13. Franklin's group knotted the tally at 22 on an attack error by Anna Holmquist but the Bulldogs won the final three of the day winning the match on a kill from Hannah Givens.
The overall stats showed Carson-Newman with 36 kills on a .099 hitting percentage, 64 digs, 10 blocks and a season-low one service ace. Wingate smacked 46 kills on a .201 margin with 78 digs, nine rejections and two aces.
Rademacher had 12 assists and 10 digs upping her season total six double-doubles. Taylor Rohr (Windsor, Colo.) handed out 15 helpers.
Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) finished with 21 digs bringing her season total to 784, good for the third-highest total in the history of the school. Her 7.61 digs per set establishes a new high mark for the Eagles as she bests her record of 6.94 from a year ago.
Katie Parnell (Atlanta) added two more blocks to an elite season at the net. Her 135 block assists were behind Nikki James's, the school's leader in blocks, 136 from 2010 for the top mark since 2000. Her 144 total blocks and 1.36 blocks per set put her fourth for a single season behind three campaigns by James.
Rachel Alles, the SAC Player of the Year, finished with 42 assists, 15 digs 2.5 total blocks. Kori Adams led all players with 26 digs.
Two Bulldogs finished in double figures for kills led by Phoebe Havenaar's 12 as she did not make a hitting miscue for a .522 hitting percentage. Givens tallied 10 smashes adding seven digs.
The best way to stay locked in for the Eagles in the offseason is by following @CarsonNewmanVB on Twitter and @cnvb_ on Instagram. Fans can also stay tuned to @CNathletics on Twitter for the latest information.
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