HPU Volleyball Panthers hold off Spartans for five-set triumph

• Sophomore Katie Tylman recorded a career high with 16 kills while hitting at a .324 clip and netting two blocks.
• Junior Haley Barnes posted a double-double with 13 kills and 17 digs to go with five blocks and the match-ending kill.
• Junior Amy Pilat registered a career-high 24 digs in the win.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University volleyball team jumped out to a two-sets-to-none lead over UNCG on Friday night in the Millis Center, but needed a fifth-set rally to pull out a dramatic 3-2 win in the Tussle in the Triad.

The Panthers (3-1) were buoyed all match by sophomore Katie Tylman’s career night as the Charlotte, N.C. native racked up 16 kills. However, after cruising to wins in the first two sets (25-20 and 25-18) the Spartans (1-3) battled back to force a game five.

“Obviously, it was great to see the team continue to fight,” head coach Tom Mendoza said of his first win in the Millis Center in his first try. “I thought we played well in the third set, but I feel like we let them off the hook and gave them momentum. In the fifth set, we were finally able to get back into our full rhythm and settle down. That’s volleyball and we did a good job of settling down when we needed to in the fifth set.”

In the hard-fought final set, UNCG held an 8-7 lead when the team’s switched sides. But then Tylman evened the score with her final kill of the night. The Panthers added three more kills and UNCG committed an error to give HPU a 12-9 edge.

The Spartans, however, refused to go quietly scoring the next two points to pull within one. Sophomore Molly Livingston appeared to give HPU a 13-11 lead, but the officials overruled the call to knot the score at 12-all.

It didn’t shake the Panthers, though, as redshirt-senior Savannah Angel settled things down with a kill. Then, following a UNCG error, junior Haley Barnes ended the match with her 13th kill of the match.

Tylman led the way with a career-best 16 kills while hitting .324. Meanwhile, Barnes posted a double-double with 13 kills and 17 digs along with five blocks. Along with the momentum-changing kill in the fifth set, Angel finished with seven kills and two blocks.

In the middle, Livingston 11 kills and six of the Panthers’ 12 blocks on the night as sophomore Jordan Hefner chipped in with four kills and three blocks.

In the back row, junior Amy Pilat notched a career high with 24 digs as High Point tallied 76 on the night – one less than the Spartans registered.

From their setter spot, freshman Jenna Smith (30 assists) and junior Carly Jimenez (25 assists) combined for 55 assists and 21 digs on the night.

The Panthers hit over .330 in all of the sets they won, but under .180 in the two dropped sets. The team finished with a .213 mark for the night while UNCG hit at a .178 clip.

Three early kills by Tylman sparked a 9-5 start for the Panthers in the first set. From there, the balance of the HPU attack kept the Purple & White in the lead throughout the frame to earn a 25-20 victory. Barnes and Hefner racked up three kills while Tylman notched four in the set as HPU hit .333 while holding UNCG to a .132 clip.

Much like the first set, High Point vaulted out to a 12-5 lead behind more outstanding hitting from Livingston, Tylman and Barnes. The trio combined for 15 kills – five apiece – and the Panthers hit .351 to cruise to a 25-18 win.

After the break UNCG came out and played even with the Panthers as the frame opened 6-6. However, HPU responded with a 10-5 run to seize control of the set with a 16-11 lead.

HPU continued to lead until the visitors mounted a 9-2 run to close the set and force a fourth set with a 25-21 win.

Then the Spartans kept the momentum rolling right through the fourth set holding HPU to a -.047 attack percentage while taking the frame 25-18 and bringing the match to the decisive game five.

However, the Purple & White were able to hold on for a dramatic 15-13 win in the frame and take the match 3-2.

The Panthers are back at it tomorrow traveling to Elon at 11 a.m. before returning home to wrap up the Tussle in the Triad against Youngstown State in the Millis Center at 7 p.m.