ROCK HILL, S.C. – Four Panthers posted double-digit kills, led by Courtney Johnk who had a career-high 23 kills but the High Point University volleyball team fell to Winthrop in five sets on Friday in Rock Hill, S.C.
High Point stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the match but the Eagles rallied to take the match 3-2 (25-14, 25-15, 22-25, 24-26, 13-15). HPU is now 14-8 on the season with a 3-3 mark in Big South play.
“It is tough to win on the road in the Big South,” said head coach Jason Oliver. “I have to give credit to Winthrop. They never lost focus but that is no excuse for the way we played. We have to bond together and find the killer instinct to finish off matches.”
Senior Courtney Johnk led the team with a career-high 23 kills. She also had nine digs and four blocks. Senior Jamie McDonald recorded a career-high 12 kills with a .500 attack percentage and four blocks. Redshirt-sophomore Maddie Simpson posted a career-high 28 digs to go along with 51 assists.
Three straight blocks gave High Point an 11-7 lead in the first set. Johnk put down a kill to give the Panthers a one-point lead, 8-7. Amy Zimmer went up for the Winthrop attack and was blocked by Kristin Heldt. On the next play Johnk and Caity Farus blocked an attempt by Kristin Cruse. Zimmer was denied again, this time by Heldt and Farus to push HPU’s lead to 11-7. The Panthers went on to win the set 25-14 with nine blocks in the frame.
High Point jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the second set led by Johnk who had two kills and an ace during the run. The Panthers cruised to a 25-15 win with a .333 attack percentage in the frame. Johnk led the attack with six kills while Simpson had 11 assists and six digs.
Winthrop went on a seven-point run late in the third set to take the lead. The Eagles turned a 17-20 deficit in to a 24-20 lead. Stephanie Palmer got the run started for Winthrop with a kill and a block and the Eagles capitalized on five HPU errors. The Panthers fought off two set points with a kill by Heldt and a block by Farus and Johnk to make it a 24-22 set. Jenica Mullins answered with a kill for the Eagles to win the set 25-22.
Johnk had a string of three straight kills to give the Panthers a 12-3 lead. Winthrop scored the first three points of the frame and High Point answered with a 12-point run. Johnk had the kill that put HPU 12-3. It was her 21st kill of the night and set her new career high.
The Panthers led by as many as 13 points, 17-4, but the Eagles came back to win thr fourth set 26-24. High Point had set point, 24-21 on a kill by Chelsea Davis. Winthrop scored the final five points of the frame to win 26-24.
Winthrop carried the momentum in to the fifth set and pulled off the comeback with a 15-13 win.
Heldt finished the night with 11 kills and Davis added 19 kills and 15 digs. Farus had six blocks in the match.
High Point will continue south to Presbyterian College on Saturday for a 7 p.m. match with the Blue Hose.