JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A weekend road trip to Coker and 24th-ranked Wingate is the final part in a string of road trips before an eight-match homestand as Carson-Newman looks to continue its consistency in South Atlantic Conference play Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.
"I see us come in everyday and I see us be able to raise our expectations," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "Understanding that the price is really high and it's really hard. I like after matches we talk about positives and this group is able to talk about how to get better and not feel like we have a weight. There is a drive to get better every day. To see them do that is fun. It makes coaching fun because I get to keep pushing and raising the standard level and it could lead to some cool things down the road."
The weekend kicks off with the 13th meeting against Coker (3-5, 1-4) as Carson-Newman (6-3, 4-2) holds a 9-3 all-time lead in the series history but two of the three losses have come one the road including a four-set defeat on Oct. 20, 2018. In the Eagles nine wins in the series, they have six sweeps yielding a total of four sets.
The Cobras were picked 10th in the preseason SAC coaches' poll and have lost four contests in-a-row winning a total of three sets during that stint. Coker's only win this year in league action came on Sept. 13 at home versus Newberry, a four-set triumph.
Statistically the program is no better than eighth in any category sitting 11th in digs per set, kills per set and opponent's hitting percentage. Foes have posted a .221 hitting margin on average in 2019 hitting at least .200 in all but two efforts.
First-year coach Travis Nead made the move from Western Carolina returned honorable mention All-SAC pick and the league's leader in kills, Taylor du Bray. This season, however, the senior is 20th in the conference with 2.47 per game. She had 20 and 19 kills respectively against C-N a year ago with double-doubles in each outing.
C-N tees it up against a ranked team on Saturday looking to snap a seven-match losing streak to top 25 teams, albeit four of those contests have come versus teams in the top 11. The last win for the Eagles against a ranked unit came on the road on Nov. 4, 2014 when the school took down seventh-ranked Wingate (12-0, 5-0) in five frames.
The Bulldogs have a decisive lead in the all-time series with a 51-14 overall record and a 25-5 advantage on matches played at Cuddy Arena. C-N has dropped 10 straight in the series and 35 of the last 36 dating back to 2005.
"We are all chasing them," Franklin said. "They have established something. Coach Collier and his players have established a heckuva culture, a winning culture. We are all trying to play catch up to them. We are going in there trying to learn how to be at their level. I think we have the right mentality. It's not so much win or loss, it's how you play. I look for us to grow in our competitiveness and grow in our composure and our ability to execute against high-level teams."
Coming off of a 32-2 season taking just one loss during the regular season, a four-set loss at Anderson, Wingate won the region championship coasting through three matches wins dropping one set, the Bulldogs once again fell short of winning a match in the National Quarterfinals. Coach Shelton Collier's team received 10 first-place votes and returns second-team All-American setter Rachel Alles.
At 12-0 this season, the Bulldogs are one of 11 remaining unbeaten teams in Division II and one of 16 among all three divisions. They have won 15 straight regular-season matches since falling in three sets at Anderson on Oct. 26, 2018.
Wingate boasts the longest active home winning streak among any divisons having won 44 consecutive matches dating back to a four-set defeat to fifth-ranked Wheeling Jesuit on Oct. 1, 2016. The Eagles are the last SAC team to leave Cuddy Arena with a victory as the Bulldogs have rattled off 53 versus league foes.
The team leads the country in two areas, blocks per set at 2.88 and opponent hitting percentage at .045. Overall, coach Collier's crew leads the conference in 11 areas. Maggie Young leads the league and is ninth in the country with 1.43 blocks per set as one of three players in the top 10 in the SAC.
Game day links and all other information related to Carson-Newman volleyball can be found on cneagles.com and by following @CNathletics on Twitter.