HPU Volleyball Opens Big South Play with 3-1 Win at Liberty

• Junior Katie Tylman exploded for seven fourth-set kills en route to an 18-kill night.
• Freshman Abby Bottomley recorded a career-high 35 digs as HPU earned a 67-56 margin in digs.
• High Point out hit Liberty .250 to .167 to pick up a road win to start conference play.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The High Point University volleyball team shook off a slow start before storming back to earn a 3-1 victory at Liberty on Tuesday night in the Big South opener.

After dropping the first set 25-23, the Panthers (8-6, 1-0) evened the match with a 25-16 win before taking a hard-fought third set by a score of 26-24. Junior Katie Tylman took over from there pounding down seven kills in the fourth set as HPU defeated the Flames (3-11, 0-1) 25-19 to close out the match.

“Overall I thought we played a very solid match and it’s always great to get a conference road win,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “When we played within our system we controlled large stretches of each set. We could have closed out the first and third sets better, but I liked the way we responded after giving away the first set. It’s a good learning moment that we can draw upon if we are down a set later in the season. We also had several players who individually didn’t start off the match as strong, but worked themselves into a rhythm, made some big plays for us and finished with strong numbers. I like the direction we are heading as a group. We will put in a couple good days of practice and hopefully take another step forward on Saturday at Charleston Southern.”

Tylman finished the night with 18 kills while hitting at a .387 clip and adding two blocks. Just one kill behind Tylman, junior Molly Livingston racked up 17 kills and hit .378 on the night.

“It was really big for us to get a win in our first conference match,” Tylman said. “We had a really tough preseason and we had some losses that we’d like to take back, but one of the lessons we’ve learned from that is the importance of being consistent, effective and aggressive. I thought we did a good job of those things in the last three sets tonight.”

Meanwhile, on the defensive side, freshman Abby Bottomley registered a career-high 35 digs as the Panthers earned a 67-56 margin in digs. Thanks to that digging advantage HPU outhit the Flames .250 to .167 despite being outblocked 10-7 in the match.

Rounding out the deep attack, senior Haley Barnes collected nine kills and six digs as junior Abby Broadstreet tallied nine kills and nine digs. From the middle junior Jordan Hefner posted seven kills and two blocks.

At setter, senior Carly Jimenez paced the offense with 33 assists while sophomore Jenna Smith added 25.

In the opening frame, the teams split the first 40 points before back-to-back blocks for Liberty gave the home squad a 22-20 edge. The Panthers pulled within one three times before the Flames claimed a 25-23 win.

After falling behind 6-5, the Purple & White responded with a 13-5 run to build an 18-11 advantage. From there, Liberty didn’t get any closer than four as Livingston posted two kills down the stretch as HPU claimed the set, 25-16.

Out of the break, High Point came out on fire hitting .407 while vaulting out to a 19-15 lead. The Panthers maintained their four-point edge before the Flames fought off four straight set-point opportunities. However, Tylman halted the run with a kill, which Liberty followed with an error as HPU took the frame 26-24.

Through eight points, the two squads were tied 4-4 in the fourth. But three kills from Tylman anchored a 10-3 run as HPU built a 14-7 lead. Though Liberty cut the deficit to four on multiple occasions, the Purple & White held on for a 25-19 triumph.

The Panthers stay on the road this weekend when they head south to Charleston Southern to play the Bucs at 2 p.m. on Saturday.