• High Point and Coastal Carolina each posted 42 kills on the night in the evenly match contest
• Freshman Haley Barnes led HPU with 10 kills and seven digs
• HPU ends the season with a 13-16 record (6-8 BSC)
CONWAY, S.C. – The sixth-seeded High Point University volleyball team took Coastal Carolina to the brink in the first two sets, but was unable to push past the Chanticleers and fell 3-0 in the Big South semifinals Saturday inside the HTC Center.
The Panthers (13-16, 6-8 Big South) gave the No. 2 seed all it could handle in the first two sets, falling 26-24 in both before dropping the third set, 25-18.
“Tonight was kind of a microcosm of our season,” head coach Jason Oliver said. “We fought and clawed and scratched all night long and needed to find two points, but Coastal was able to find those points tonight. I’m extremely proud of the effort that everyone put in today. It’s two or three points that makes a season or breaks a season.”
HPU was led by freshman Haley Barnes who registered 10 kills (3.33/set) and seven digs. Senior Kristin Heldt just missed a double-double posting nine kills and 12 digs while junior Wavie Chin finished with a match-high 15 digs. Freshman Camryn Freiberg led the team with a .529 hitting percentage while collecting nine kills. Junior Gabi Mirand averaged 11.67 assists per set (35 total) and served up two aces in the match.
The Panthers finished the match even in kills with CCU at 42-42 and had just one less assist at 40-41, but were outhit, .265-.119. Defensively, HPU registered 57 digs while Coastal Carolina had 55. Service aces were tied (2-2) and the home team posted a 12-5 advantage in blocks.
The host Chanticleers came out hot on their home floor to take an early 5-1 lead, but the Purple & White bounced right back to even the score at 6-6. From there the teams went back and forth with neither team getting more than a two-point advantage. Coastal Carolina built a 24-22 lead, but back-to-back kills from Freiberg and Barnes tied it up at 24-24. However, following a timeout the Chanticleers were able to earn two straight points to take the set 26-24. Despite losing the set the Panthers tallied 17 kills while CCU only posted 11, but HPU was unable to overcome its 12 attack errors.
HPU grabbed momentum early in the second set, blocking Big South Player of the Year Leah Hardeman in the first two volleys to take the lead. The Panthers were able to maintain the lead with their balanced attack before the Chanticleers pulled back ahead at 16-15. From there the teams fought to build a lead, but neither could pull away as the set saw five ties before CCU built a 24-21 lead with three straight points. Heldt and Davis sandwiched kills around a Freiberg block to knot the set at 24-24, but Coastal Carolina was once against able to score two consecutive points to close out the set.
In the third set the hosts came out hot and took an 11-6 lead. But the Panthers were able to change the flow of the set as senior Katie Vincent came off the bench and immediately got a kill. Heldt then added a block before Freiberg made it 12-10 with a powerful kill through the middle of the Chanticleer defense. But once again CCU answered with a run of its own to make it 21-13. High Point responded with three straight points to pull back within five, but was unable to get and closer and lost the set 25-18.
Chin finished the year with 571 digs, the fifth most in a single season in school history. She will need just 13 more digs to reach the 1,000-dig plateau for her career.
Seniors Chelsea Davis and Heldt finished their careers fourth and fifth in the program’s career kills list with 1,346 and 1,341 respectively.
“This group was the first class that I recruited at HPU, so I’ve known them since they were 16 or 17 years old,” Oliver said of Chelsea Davis, Kristin Heldt, Chelsea Blanford and Katie Vincent. “I’ve enjoyed the chance to see them grow and leave a lasting legacy of hard work and finding happiness in what we do every day. They’ve raised the level of the program and I’m sad to see them go.”