JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Inside of a raucous Holt Fieldhouse, the Carson-Newman Eagles defeated the No. 22 Wingate Bulldogs by a 3-1 final Saturday afternoon.
This is the first loss for the Bulldogs (19-1, 12-1 SAC) since Oct. 26, 2018 at Anderson. Conversely, this is the first ranked opponent that the Eagles (14-5, 8-4 SAC) have knocked off a ranked opponent since Nov. 1, 2014 against this same Wingate program.
As the team dogpiled at midcourt to celebrate, coach Ashley Tiernan couldn't help but be emotional watching the sight of her team's victory.
"Last night (against Coker) we were struggling with energy," Tiernan said. "Finding the energy, bringing the energy to the court – even on the bench – and today that was a huge focus for us. Keeping our composure and having energy and they were capable of doing it the entire match and I'm so proud of them," Tiernan said. "…They have just shown so much relentless attitude, drive and effort and it's just exciting to be a part of."
With the victory, the Eagles move into sole possession of fourth place in the SAC standings. The team's seven game winning-streak matches its longest since Oct. 10-24, 2015. The program is now 10-1 at home this season, its best start since opening the 2015 campaign 11-1 en route to a 12-2 mark at Holt.
C-N began the afternoon in a blaze, opening the match on a 12-2 run before a timeout was called by Wingate head coach Shelton Collier to rally his troops. The Bulldogs would pull to within one at set point for C-N, 24-23, with a service error by freshman Maggie Mullen to close out the opening frame for the Eagles. Junior outside hitter Erin Edwards (Midlothian, Virginia) led C-N with five kills in the first set.
Determined to even things up, Wingate rallied back in the second set in a 25-21 set win for the Bulldogs. Tied at 13 all, Wingate managed to keep a two-point cushion throughout the remainder of the stanza, despite the Eagles remaining within arms-length, to carry the visitor to an even set score line.
The third set would feature lead changes in rapid succession throughout the latter stages, with five changes of the point throughout. Tied at 22 apiece, C-N fired off three-straight points in a final burst to go up in the match 2-1, with a 25-22 set score.
In what would ultimately end up as the final frame, C-N managed to keep small cushions throughout the fourth set until they faced a 20-22 deficit. Poised, the Eagles would go on to win six of the last eight points to earn match victory, 26-24, with two, crucial kills from coming off the hand of senior outside hitter Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.), with the final shot fired in by Edwards to the left-hand side of the hardwood.
1⃣5⃣ kills from @erinedwards31— Carson-Newman Athletics (@CNathletics) October 19, 2019
1⃣4⃣ digs for @Marnie_Streeter
2⃣7⃣ assists for @trohr14
2⃣.5⃣ blocks for @kainajoyr
It's a pretty picture for upstart @CarsonNewmanVB in a win over @WingateVB. pic.twitter.com/Ee94oUJZKC
Coming into the match, C-N was 1-3 when hitting between .100 and .200, but the Eagles managed to lead in kills by a 57-46 margin. Perhaps the match was won in the battle of chances to attack, with the Eagles firing off 170 attacks to 136 from the Bulldogs. C-N led in assists, 54-45, with sophomore setter Taylor Rohr (Windsor, Colo.) leading with 27.
C-N also led in service aces, 9-6. Streeter paved the way in serving with a trio of aces, with Elena Vasquez (Riverside, Calif.), Oldenburger and Kaina Roehrkasse (Fort Collins, Colo.) all dishing up two aces each.
Both teams tied in digs for the match at 59 each, with the Eagles led in part by senior libero Morgan Ballard (Weaverville, N.C.) with 10. A defensive stalwart for the Eagles, Ballard also received 11 serves, while firing off 18-errorless serves of her own.
Ballard's mention of the team's composure was what served as fuel for the players in the quest to defeat their second undefeated team in as many weeks.
"We're just a confident team in general and we believe in each other and we stay together through everything," Ballard said. "It really is a battle, it's like going to war. I love every single one of them and I would go to war with them any day."
With a short time to relax, the Eagles will go back to war as Ballard said Tuesday away at Lincoln Memorial, before returning to Holt on Friday, Oct. 25. Action at the Tex Turner Arena in Harrogate, Tenn. is set for 7 p.m.