Big South Volleyball Champs: HPU edges Radford in title, 3-1

• Junior Haley Barnes posted her 20th double-double of the year with 20 kills and 10 digs to earn tournament MVP honors.
• Sophomores Molly Livingston (12 kills and four block) and Katie Tylman (nine kills and two blocks) joined Barnes on the all-tournament team.
• Senior Megan Kennedy racked up a career-high 24 digs as High Point claimed their second Big South Championship.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Junior Haley Barnes tallied 20 kills and 10 digs to lead the High Point University volleyball team to a 3-1 victory over Radford in the Big South Championship on Sunday in the Vines Center.

The Panthers (23-9) took a commanding two-set lead winning the first and second frames (25-22 and 25-20) before the Highlanders (24-6) extended the match winning the third (25-23). However, High Point responded finishing the fourth set on a 3-0 run to lock up its first Big South title since 2010 and second overall.

“It feels good, I’m just so excited for the team,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “They are such a good group who cares about each other as much as any team I’ve ever been around. They deserve this and have worked really hard. We talked all year about how this was a journey and we’ve stuck to the process and stayed together and it has worked out for us.”

Barnes’ 20th double-double of the year moved her over 400 kills for the year and earned her tournament MVP honors. Meanwhile, sophomores Molly Livingston and Katie Tylman joined Barnes on the all-tournament team.

Livingston hit .357 while racking up 12 kills, six digs and four blocks in the victory. Similarly, Tylman chipped in with nine kills and hit .368 on the day.

Defensively, senior Megan Kennedy registered a career high with 24 digs as HPU racked up 76 digs and held the Highlanders to a .235 hitting percentage. Likewise, sophomore Jordon Hefner, the Big South’s leader in blocks, tallied six of HPU’s 12 blocks in the match.

Offensively, the Purple & White hit at a .279 clip thanks to the distribution of setters junior Carly Jimenez and freshman Jenna Smith. Smith led the way with 28 assists and 12 digs as Jimenez added 22 assists, 10 digs and a key ace.

Rounding out the deep HPU offense, sophomore Abby Broadstreet and redshirt-senior Savannah Angel posted eight kills apiece with Angel hitting .471.

The Purple & White came out hitting .615 en route to an 8-5 lead, but the Highlanders defense responded with a 10-4 run to build a 15-12 advantage.

But two block assists from Hefner sandwiched around an ace from Jimenez anchored a 6-0 run as the Panthers regained the lead 18-15. Once again, the Highlanders evened the score at 21-21 before a 4-1 run ended the set for HPU (25-22).

In the second set, the offenses took over as both teams were hitting over .450 as Radford took a 15-14 edge at the media timeout. From there, neither team could build any traction until Livingston posted a kill and a block to give HPU a 22-20 lead.

The Highlanders, whose attack hit so well in the frame, recorded three straight errors as the Panthers closed the set on a 6-0 run and claimed a 25-20 victory.

In another back and forth frame, the Highlanders were able to extend the match with a 25-23 win despite a .289 attack percentage from the Panthers.

The two Big South heavyweights continued slugging away at each other in the fourth set as two huge kills from Livingston gave HPU a 13-10 edge. However, the Highlanders claimed the next three points to even the score at 13-all.

Later in the set, High Point kept the pressure on Radford forcing three straight errors to regain a three-point advantage (20-17). Once again, the Highlanders fought back to even the score at 22-22, But the trio of Broadstreet, Barnes and Livingston tallied three straight kills to clinch the Big South title, 25-22.

The Purple & White will await their NCAA Tournament fate until Sunday, Nov. 27 at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. High Point will hold a viewing party and will announce details in the coming days.