HPU Volleyball Panthers hold off the Tribe for five-set triumph

• Sophomore Molly Livingston led the team with five blocks while adding 13 kills and four digs.
• Junior Haley Barnes led the team in kills for the third straight contest with 16 in the match.
• Senior Megan Kennedy finished the match with eight kills and eight digs.

CLEMSON, S.C. – The High Point University volleyball team jumped out to a 2-0 lead and held on for a dramatic five-set win over William & Mary in the Big Orange Bash in Clemson, S.C.

Junior Haley Barnes and sophomore Molly Livingston paced the Panthers (2-1) throughout the match as HPU equaled the Tribe (1-2) in kills with 56 apiece.

“It was a great second day and we handled the back-to-back matches really well,” head coach Tom Mendoza said of the team’s games against Clemson and William & Mary. “It was great to play a team other than ourselves and see how teams attack us and how we can counter those schemes. I thought our overall effort this weekend was good and gives us a lot to build on. Whether we went 3-0 or 0-3, our goal is to get better every day and I think this was a great first step for the things we want to achieve this season.”

Barnes led the offense with 16 kills while adding two aces and six digs. Meanwhile, Livingston racked up 13 kills to go with five blocks and four digs on the night.

Defensively, junior Amy Pilat compiled a career-high 15 digs as the Panthers racked up 58 digs in the match. Senior Megan Kennedy played well on both sides with eight kills and eight digs in the match.

From their setter position, junior Carly Jimenez (26 and 5) and freshman Jenna Smith (21 and 9) combined for 47 assists and 14 digs for HPU.

Offensively, the Panthers hit .179 in the match while holding the Tribe to a .200 mark. Sophomore Katie Tylman chipped in with seven kills while sophomores Jordan Hefner and Abby Broadstreet added five apiece.

After the quick turnaround, the Tribe jumped out to a 2-0 lead before two kills from Barnes sparked a 4-0 run to give HPU a 4-2 edge. The two teams remained close as the Panthers took a 19-18 edge. From there, the Purple & White were able to hold on as Livingston found the floor with the set-ending kill (25-23).

Similar to the first set, the second frame was even early as the squads were tied 6-all. But kills from Barnes and Tylman sparked a 10-4 spurt as the Panthers took control of the set (16-10). HPU kept the pressure on as Barnes added three more kills and the Panthers took the frame 25-16 to grab a 2-0 advantage in the match.

After the break, William & Mary vaulted out to a 13-6 advantage and didn’t look back earning a 25-15 win.

In the back-and-forth fourth set, neither team was able to build a three-point advantage as William & Mary forced an HPU timeout with a 16-14 lead. The Panthers came out of the timeout with a 4-1 spurt – anchored by a Livingston kill – to take an 18-17 edge.

After the Tribe scored the next point, Barnes posted consecutive kills to make it 20-18. But William & Mary bounced right back finishing the set on a 7-2 run to take the frame, 25-22, and force a fifth set.

In the final set, Livingston came out with a couple kills to give HPU a 5-3 lead. Barnes followed with a solo block before Angel and Hefner combined on a block to make it 8-4.

The Panthers kept control through most of the set and built a 14-9 lead, but then allowed three straight points as the Tribe pulled within two (14-12). Kennedy brought the match to the end with a kill to hand HPU a 15-12 victory.

The Panthers are back in the Triad next weekend to play UNCG, Youngstown State and at Elon.