Pacers ride quick start to hand Eagles their first loss of 2018

Box Score

AIKEN, S.C. – After racing out to a 10-2 lead to begin the match, USC Aiken staved off Carson-Newman's counterpunch to hand the Eagles their first loss of the 2018 season 25-17, 27-25 and 25-21 Thursday evening at the Convocation Center.

"While our team is older than last season, we are still young and inexperienced in big moments when there are high expectations to win," Carson-Newman coach Dave Franklin said. "We have great unity on this squad who will support each other through and through and that is awesome to see as a coach. Another opportunity to learn, grow and get better tomorrow."

USC Aiken (6-1) improves to 6-0 at home against Carson-Newman (3-1) while winning its fourth straight effort against the Eagles. The Pacers extend their record to 66-8 inside of the friendly confines since the start of the 2014 season.

The Pacers came out of the gates rolling winning the first three rallies of the night and 10 of the first 12 overall before a timeout from Franklin. The Eagles chipped away but couldn't get closer than five points as an Alie Smith kill closed out the first frame. C-N committed seven attack errors with just one kill.

A wild second set that featured 17 ties saw each team chalk up a handful of errors. Down by a point, the Eagles rattled off three straight points prompting a timeout from the home team. Out of the stoppage, Aiken responded with three unanswered of its own. It took three set points before a kill from Smith sealed a 2-0 advantage.

In the third game, Aiken won six of the first nine points. After C-N won back-to-back points, the Eagles could not close to tighter than a pair the rest of the set as Smith put the match on ice with her 18th kill of the night.

The Pacers closed the night out with a .220 attack percentage on 50 kills with 89 digs, five blocks and three service aces. C-N countered with a season-low .112 hitting clip on 32 kills, 69 scoops, eight rejections and one ace.

For the first time this year and in seven matches, a pair of Eagles racked up a double-double on the night. Megan Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) went for 12 kills and 13 digs for the 11th one of her career. Taylor Rohr (Windsor, Colo.) led all players with 27 assists to go along 11 digs.

Joy Rhodes (Youngsville, N.C.) finished with a C-N high 10 smashes while Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) tallied 23 digs.

Smith led all players on the night with 18 kills on a .250 hitting margin while flipping up 10 digs. Christine Carroll added 10 kills and Rebecca Martinez led all players with 39 digs and nine assists. Alli Bell had 20 assists and 14 digs.

The Eagles continue play in two stats on Friday starting with a bout against Lander at 10 a.m. before hustling over to Georgia to face Barton at 4:30 p.m. Stay tuned to @CNathletics on Twitter for the latest on Franklin's squad.

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