JEFFERSON CITY—Morgan Ballard joined the 2,000-dig club as Carson-Newman knocked USC Aiken from the undefeated ranks in straight stanzas 25-11, 25-21 and 25-13 Friday evening at Holt Fieldhouse in the South Atlantic Conference versus Peach Belt Crossover.
"It's such a relief," Ballard said. "My dad and all my friends talk about it and it finally happened so we were really looking forward to it especially my dad – he's my biggest fan, both of my parents are. It was really nice to be able to do it here on our home court to have all of our fans and all of my family here. It was a really great experience especially with this win over Aiken. It's the icing on the cake."
Ballard's first dig of the day was enough to cement her in the ranks as she became the ninth active player in Division II to join the club. The Weaverville, N.C. finished the day with 11.
Carson-Newman (10-5) snapped a five-match losing streak to USC Aiken (16-1) with the triumph handing a Pacers team that had lost six sets all year its first loss. They were one of 10 teams across all divisions to be without a blemish entering play this weekend and held the seventh-longest active winning streak in the NCAA.
"That win was huge," Carson-Newman coach Ashley Tiernan said. "Both wins today were huge. We came into this one knowing that it was going to be a tough team but we knew that we controlled what we did. We played small games to five so that we didn't think of the whole picture at once and I think that helped them mentally stay in the game."
Marnie Streeter (Goldvein, Va.) produced an electric day on the court pacing all players with 15 kills while hitting .345 adding nine digs. Not too far behind in efficiency, Megan Oldenburger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Erin Edwards (Midlothian, Va.) produced nine kills and a .280 tally and eight kills and a .471 mark respectively.
Taylor Rohr (Windsor, Colo.) dished out 17 assists and Elena Vasquez (Riverside, Calif.) stuffed the stat sheet with eight assists, seven digs and three aces.
As a roster, the Eagles cranked out 36 kills on a .292 attack percentage with 48 digs, 11.5 blocks and six aces. The Pacers entered the day yielding the second-lowest opponent attack percentage in the country allowing a .077 percentage.
Carson-Newman picked up where it left off in a win against Georgia College ripping off the first four points of the day and nine of the first 12. Aiken pulled within four at 9-5 only to see the Eagles rattle off 11 of the next 12 to go ahead 20-6. Streeter capped a hot start by her side with a kill down the line, her fourth of the opening set.
The second stanza was tight for much of the time with neither side holding larger than a two-point lead until the latter portions. C-N broke the 11th tie of the game at 17-17 to win seven of the next nine to get to set point at 24-19. After being unable to convert on three straight set points, Edwards blasted a ball to the ground to put the Eagles on top 2-0.
In the third game, the Eagles jumped out to a 6-1 lead but Aiken whittled away using a 5-0 surge to cut the deficit to one at 11-10. After going back-and-forth, C-N found another late burst finishing the match on a 12-1 run as Kelsey Spurlin swatted a ball in the net to end the day.
Aiken hit .000 on the day with 26 kills seeing six different hitters log multi-error affairs. The team posted 43 digs, two aces and one rejection.
Alie Smith was the lone Pacer to finish in double figures with 10 kills. Mallory Barash registered 11 assists and Rebecca Martinez led all players on the day with 17 digs.
Halfway through the crossover, the Eagles eye a Saturday doubleheader against Augusta and Lander with matches slated to start at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. inside of Holt Fieldhouse.