HPU Vlleyball edges Ohio, 3-2, Wins Bobcat Invitational

• Junior Katie Tylman continued her stellar weekend with a career-high 20 kills – with seven in the fifth set – to earn Tournament MVP honors.
• Junior Molly Livingston crushed 18 kills – including seven in the third set – while adding six blocks.
• Sophomore Jenna Smith posted a career high in assists (49) while freshman Abby Bottomley recorded a career-best 28 digs.

ATHENS, Ohio – Junior Katie Tylman paced the High Point University volleyball team’s attack with a career-high 20 kills leading the squad to a dramatic 3-2 win over Ohio in the Bobcat Invitational on Saturday.

The Panthers (4-2) built a 2-1 lead through three sets and large leads in the fourth and fifth sets. However, the Bobcats (4-3) battled back to take the fourth and a 14-12 edge in the fifth. But Tylman and HPU responded taking five of the next six points to claimed the 17-15 triumph and claim the tournament’s MVP honors.

“I have to credit Ohio for the way they battled all weekend,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “Today’s match was a hard fought from start to end and I’m so proud of the way our team persevered. To come out of the weekend 3-0 says a lot about the potential for our group, but it’s important to stay grounded whether we win or lose. Our goal is to keep getting better throughout the year and that’s what we’ll turn our focus to over the next couple of days. We will learn a lot from watching video from this weekend and hopefully improve in those areas as we return home to the Millis Center for another week of exciting matches.”

Along with High Point’s wins over Georgia and Oklahoma yesterday, the win gave the Panthers the Bobcat Invitational title.

Tylman’s 20 kills came 43 attempts (.372) as she added five blocks on the afternoon. Joining Tylman on the All-Tournament Team, senior Haley Barnes recorded nine kills, 13 digs and three aces while junior Jordan Hefner notched eight kills and seven blocks.

“Ohio really brought it and fought their hardest today,” Tylman said. “They are extremely scrappy and kept the ball alive. We had a hard time shutting down their middles and they really made us work. What we had to focus on throughout the match was staying mentally tough and to keep bringing our energy levels up. I think we really showed that in the fifth set.”

Controlling the ball for the Panthers, freshman Abby Bottomley was credited with a career-high 28 digs. Meanwhile, sophomore Jenna Smith netted 49 assists – her career high.

From the middle, junior Molly Livingston slammed down 18 kills and matched her career best mark with seven blocks. Junior Abby Broadstreet rounded out the offensive depth with eight kills and 14 digs in the match.

Overall, Ohio had a +8 margin in kills (75-67) and a +10 edge in digs (98-88), but High Point was able to outhit the Bobcats .198 to .178.

The hosts came out on fire with a 5-0 run, but Barnes tallied a kill and two aces as the Panthers responded with seven straight to take the lead, 7-5. The two squads battled back and forth the rest of the frame before Ohio claimed the set, 25-23, with a 6-1 run.

For the second straight set neither team could build momentum as the lead seesawed until Broadstreet tallied a kill and Livingston stuffed OU to end the set 26-24, HPU.

The Purple & White kept the positive energy going early in the third building a 13-6 advantage. However, the Bobcats chipped away and evened the score at 24-all. But Livingston slammed down her seventh kill of the frame to give HPU the lead before an OU attack error gave HPU another 26-24 victory.

Once again, the Panthers opened an early 9-5 lead as Broadstreet tallied three kills. The Bobcats didn’t go away quietly, though, clawing back into the lead, 19-18. This time Ohio was able to complete the comeback and take the set 26-24 and force a fifth frame.

In the final set, Tylman and Livingston each posted three kills to vault HPU to a 9-6 lead. The Panthers’ lead peaked at four before Ohio responded with six points in a row to take a 14-12 lead.

However, Tylman slammed down two more kills before an attack error gave High Point a 17-15 triumph.

The Purple & White open their home slate on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. when they welcome VCU to the Millis Center.