HPU Volleyball Panthers roll into semis with 3-1 win over Bulldogs

• Junior Haley Barnes paced the Panthers with 17 kills and 13 digs to record her 18th double-double of the year.
• Behind senior Megan Kennedy’s team-high 18 digs, High Point posted 82 digs – the team’s most in a four-set match this season.
• The Panthers advance to the Big South Championship semifinals to face No. 2 Liberty at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Junior Haley Barnes recorded her 18th double-double on 2016 to lead the High Point University volleyball team to a 3-1 triumph over UNC Asheville in Lynchburg, Va. on Friday night.

The Panthers (21-9) racked up 82 digs while holding the Bulldogs (12-16) to a .181 attack percentage in the win. The victory moves the Purple & White into the Big South Championship semifinals where they will take on host and No. 2 seed Liberty at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

“In the first two sets I thought we were very good in the serve receive and side-out game, but in the third set we gave up a run to start and that kind of carried over throughout that set,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “Asheville is a very tough team to play against and they make it hard on you and don’t give away a lot of points. But I thought we did a pretty good job in the first two sets and fourth set and need to improve on the way we started the third set.”

Barnes registered 17 kills and 13 digs to lead the Panthers while sophomore Katie Tylman added 10 kills to go with four blocks.

Defensively, the 82 digs were the most for HPU in a four-set match this season as senior Megan Kennedy led the way with 18. Chipping in on defense, High Point’s setting duo if junior Carly Jimenez and freshman Jenna Smith combined for 30 digs to go with their 48 assists.

From the other outside hitter spot, sophomore Abby Broadstreet posted eight kills, two aces and 10 digs on the night.

At the net, sophomore Jordan Hefner recorded six blocks and six kills while sophomore Molly Livingston added eight kills and four blocks on the night. Meanwhile, redshirt-senior Savannah Angel rounded out the squad’s attack with six kills.

Barnes set the tone early with two kills and a block assist as HPU took a 4-2 lead. However, the set stayed within three points as the Purple & White held on to a 19-17 advantage.

From there, the Panthers used three straight kills by Livingston followed by a kill from Angel to close the set on a 6-1 run and win 25-18.

There was no early lead for HPU in the second frame as the Bulldogs built a 9-5 advantage. But the Panthers responded with a 9-3 run to grab a 14-12 edge before UNC Asheville evened the score at 21-all.

Tylman, then, broke the tie with her fifth kill of the match before she combined on a block with Hefner to make it 23-21. The right-side hitter added another kill to give HPU a set-point opportunity before Livingston’s fifth kill gave High Point a 25-23 victory.

After the break, the Bulldogs used a 9-0 run to build a 9-2 lead. However, the Panthers chipped away and cut the deficit to three (19-16), but couldn’t get any closer as Asheville took the set 25-18.

In the fourth set, High Point vaulted out to a 12-7 lead before the Bulldogs responded with a 7-2 run to even the score. The set remained close until a 3-0 HPU spurt gave the Panthers a 20-17 advantage.

From there, Barnes added another kill before Broadstreet’s two kills gave the Panthers a set-point chance. This time, HPU capitalized immediately as Tylman and Livingston stuffed the Bulldogs attack to end the set (25-21) and the match 3-1.