JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Paced by sophomore Marnie Streeter's match-high 24 kills, fourth-seeded Carson-Newman upset No. 1 seeded Anderson, 3-2 (18-25, 25-22, 12-25, 25-21, 15-10) in the semifinals of the 2017 South Atlantic Conference Volleyball Championship, Friday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
"Unfortunately we picked the wrong time to make some critical errors at critical times," said Anderson head coach Todd Hay. "We really haven't done that all year and that has led to our success. Carson-Newman hung in there and kept serving tough, kept us off balance and played well when they needed it most. Congratulations to them. The key thing now is to regroup and focus on the NCAA regional. This team will bounce back. They've done well all year and we have no reason to expect anything less. This one stings a bit, but we'll focus more on the amazing season we have had and what lies ahead."
Despite having four players reach double-figure kills, Anderson (27-4) saw its school-record win streak halted at 22 matches and will be looking for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the selections are announced Monday night. The Trojans were ranked fourth in the latest NCAA Southeast Regional rankings, while Carson-Newman improved to 17-13 on the season on the strength of three straight victories.
The Eagles avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Trojans and advance to the tournament finals, where they will face third-seeded Queens, which upset No. 2 seeded Wingate earlier in the day.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior outside hitter Marissa Mitter led the Trojan attack with 18 kills and 15 digs for her 14th double-double of the season, while junior Jayln Knight posted her fifth double-double of the campaign by adding 15 kills and a dozen digs. Sophomore outside hitter Kathryn Hughes tallied 13 kills and four block assists, with senior Rachel Burts notching 10 kills and a pair of block assists.
Sophomore setter Emily Conlin posted a match-high 47 assists and chipped in 21 digs for her 17th double-double of the season, with junior libero Emily Conard recording 23 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Trojans jumped in front early and led wire-to-wire while posting a .357 hitting percentage.
Mitter and Burts each posted two kills apiece to fuel a fast start by the Black and Gold, as they scored the first six points of the set and forced an early Carson-Newman timeout. The Eagles responded by scoring three consecutive points coming out of the break, but a C-N serve error slowed the momentum. But the Eagles added two more scores to trim AU's lead to just 8-7.
The Trojans maintained the advantage and took a 13-9 advantage on an attack error by Streeter. Carson-Newman again crept back within one, at 14-13, before the Trojans reeled off five unanswered points as part of a decisive 9-2 outburst and took control of the frame. AU went on to claim the seven-point victory.
The second frame featured five early ties and a pair of early lead changes, before Conlin knocked down a kill to spark an 7-1 run by the Trojans that turned a one-point deficit into an 11-6 AU advantage.
But Carson-Newman countered with five straight points of its own to pull even, before the Trojans pushed out to a 17-13 lead and still held a 20-19 edge before the Eagles rallied to take the set behind a late 6-2 surge.
AU scored the first three points of the frame to force a quick Carson-Newman timeout. But the break didn't slow the Trojans, as they bolted out to a 10-1 lead. The cushion grew to double-digits (13-3) and the Black and Gold held the double-figure advantage the rest of the way before taking the 13-point win.
The fourth set featured four early ties before the Trojans doubled up Carson-Newman, at 16-8. AU still held a 20-13 lead before the Eagles mounted a late rally and won the set on the strength of a 12-1 run.
Carson-Newman jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead and while the Trojans battled back within one, at 7-6, they were unable to completely recover.
The Eagles countered with six straight points to take a 13-6 advantage, before Jackson sandwiched kills around a kill by Mitter. Following a Carson-Newman timeout, Hughes knocked down a kill to get the Trojans within three, but the Eagles scored two straight points to get the win.
STAT OF THE MATCH
Carson-Newman posted nine kills without an error in 17 attempts in the decisive fifth set for a .529 hitting percentage.
• Tonight's contest marked the third matchup between Anderson and Carson-Newman in the SAC Tournament, with the Eagles now holding a 2-1 edge … All three meetings have gone the full five-set distance.
• Tonight's match was just the second five-set contest of the season for AU … Augusta edged AU in five sets in early September.
• Anderson made its sixth straight appearance in the SAC Tournament and seventh overall.
• Carson-Newman has claimed a narrow 11-10 edge in the overall series between the two schools.
• Wingate had won 10 of the last 11 SAC Tournament titles (Lenoir-Rhyne claimed the 2015 SAC Championship).
SAC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Saturday, Nov. 18 (at Carson-Newman)
Game 7: #3 Queens vs. #4 Carson-Newman, 2 p.m.
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