High Point Volleyball Drops Home Opener Against VCU, 3-2

• Senior Haley Barnes recorded the 43rd double-double of her career with 11 kills and 18 digs.
• Junior Molly Livingston paced the HPU offense with 16 kills (.375) while adding five blocks
• The Panthers are back on the Millis Center floor on Friday at 7 p.m. to host LSU.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University volleyball team took the first and third sets, but couldn’t keep momentum in a 3-2 setback to VCU on Tuesday in the Millis Center.

The Panthers (4-3) opened their first home game of 2017 with a 25-21 win behind a hot-hitting offense. However, VCU responded with a 25-15 victory before HPU heated back up to take the third, 25-18.

But the Rams (6-2) responded again with a 25-21 win before jumping out to a 9-4 lead in the fifth. From there, HPU couldn’t get any closer than four points as the visitors took the deciding set 15-10.

“I thought the match as a whole consisted of a lot of wasted opportunities for us,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “I thought we accomplished a lot of the things we wanted, but I didn’t think we competed for points as well as we could have and that ultimately made us inconsistent throughout the night. Sometimes coming out after wins is more challenging than playing after losses, so hopefully we will take what we need to from film before playing three good teams this weekend. In the end, credit goes to VCU because any time we looked uncomfortable tonight it was due to something they were doing to force us to feel that way.”

Junior Molly Livingston led the HPU attack with 16 kills while hitting at a .375 clip and posting five blocks. Meanwhile, her fellow Wisconsinite, senior Haley Barnes, recorded the 43rd double-double of her career with 11 kills and a team-high 18 digs.

Joining Livingston in the middle, junior Jordan Hefner added 11 kills on just 18 attack attempts (.500). Just missing double digits in kills, junior Abby Broadsteet posted nine kills and six digs.

“I think our defense did a good job of getting touches and our setters were able to spread the offense out and get me and Jordan the balls in the middle,” Livingston said. “Overall, I think we were hesitant tonight, which isn’t what you want to see in a home match. So, I think we need to reflect on the match and change our outlook and come in hungry this weekend.”

Sophomore Jenna Smith orchestrated the offense that hit .338 in the sets it won with 33 assists and a season-best 11 digs. Similarly, senior Carly Jimenez added 16 assists and six assists.

While the offense played well in the first and third sets, HPU hit just .010 in the frames it dropped. In total, VCU outhit the Panthers .174 to .150 thanks in large part to its 18.0 blocks.

High Point earned a +9 margin (70-61) in digs with freshman Abby Bottomley tallying 17 and a +3 edge (54-51) in kills, but couldn’t overcome the blocks and 11 VCU aces.

HPU’s Wisconsin natives set the tone early racking up five kills apiece in the opening frame to lead the Panthers to a 25-21 victory. Behind that duo, High Point recorded a .467 hitting percentage in the frame.

However, VCU opened the second set with a 6-0 run to build a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. For as hot as the Panthers started they were equally cold in the second frame hitting -.067 while dropping the set 25-15.

The third set played out similarly to the first as Broadstreet’s fifth kill of the frame gave High Point a 20-11 edge. Although the Rams fought to within five, 23-18, a VCU attack error and a kill by Barnes ended the set.

In the fourth frame, both teams posted runs of at least five points before the set was tied at 20-all. However, HPU could only score one more point the rest of the way as the Rams claimed a 25-21 win.

In the final set, VCU started hot taking the first four points. The hosts got as close as two, 6-4, but wouldn’t get any closer as the Rams closed out the victory, 15-10.

The Panther remain at home to host LSU on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Millis Center.