Balance keys HPU Volleyball’s 3-1 triumph over Radford

• Redshirt-senior Savannah Angel racked up eight kills and five blocks while hitting at a .353 clip.
• Sophomore Molly Livingston paced the Panthers with 13 kills (.440) to go with four blocks and two aces.
• High Point registered an 11-4 edge in aces against the top serving team in the Big South Conference.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University volleyball team used every one of its talents in a crucial 3-1 victory over Radford in the Millis Center on Tuesday night.

The Panthers (18-8, 9-4) had seven players record at least four kills while seven players combined for 11 aces on the night. On the other hand, Radford (20-5, 11-2) relied heavily on Maddie Palmer who recorded 24 of the team’s 55 kills.

As the series suggests – 16-15 in 31 meetings since 2003 – the two teams stayed close throughout the night as each team took 25-21 wins before the break. But after the intermission HPU took two extra-point frames to win the match.

“I thought it was a really exciting night of volleyball and both teams played really well,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “All four sets were close and I thought the way we competed was exactly what we are looking for in November and we are trying to play our best volleyball this time of year. We’ve know earned a win over each team in the conference, which will give us confidence against anyone in the conference tournament.”

Sophomore Molly Livingston stuffed the statsheet for High Point leading the way in kills (13), aces (3) and attack percentage (.440). The Sun Prairie, Wis. native also added four blocks and a dig.

Likewise, redshirt-senior Savannah Angel came up clutch for the Purple & White. The right-side hitter recorded eight kills and a team-best five blocks. The squad’s other right-side, sophomore Katie Tylman, chipped in with four kills and two blocks.

High Point’s three outside hitters took turns playing key roles as junior Haley Barnes led the trio with 11 kills and 10 digs – her 15th double-double. Meanwhile, senior Megan Kennedy posted eight kills, four digs and an ace as sophomore Abby Broadstreet tallied five kills, five digs and an ace.

In the match, the Highlanders earned a +14 edge in digs (66-54) despite 17 from junior Amy Pilat. However, the teams were even in kills (55-55) thanks to the distributing of junior Carly Jimenez (24 assists) and freshman Jenna Smith (17 assists).

Radford was able to post a .225 hitting percentage while holding the Purple & White to .179, but couldn’t overcome an 11-4 deficit in aces and -2 margin (9-7) in blocks.

Three early kills from Angel boosted the Panthers to a 12-8 lead in the first frame. However, the Highlanders responded with a 9-1 run to build a 17-13 advantage.

From there, Livingston recorded two blocks to pull HPU to within one at 22-21, but Radford responded by taking the final three points of the set (25-21).

In the second frame, the teams split the first 20 points before three kills by Kennedy helped give HPU 15-13 edge. Radford, though, took the next two points to even the score at 15-15.

However, this time it was the Panthers that finished the set strong getting three kills from Barnes down the stretch to grab a 25-21 victory and even the match at 1-all.

After the intermission, the Highlanders came out and built an 8-5 lead and then stretched the lead to four late in the set (20-16). However, Barnes answered with three kills to anchor a 7-4 run before Smith’s ace tied the score at 24-all.

Angel, then, gave the Panthers a set point opportunity with the kill before the Highlanders were able to extend the set (25-25). However, Broadstreet and Livingston smashed back-to-back kills to give HPU a 27-25 win and a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth frame, neither team was able to build a three-point lead until Tylman’s kill put High Point up 15-12. But as they did all night, the Highlanders battled right back to even the score at 18-18 and then again at 23-all.

Broadstreet, again, tallied a clutch kill to give HPU a 24-23 edge before Radford picked up a kill to tie it. But on the next two points the Purple & White were able to force attack errors from the Highlanders to close out the set 26-24.

The Panthers are on the road for the final time this season at Liberty on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Vines Center.