• Freshman Katie Doering recorded a career high in kills for the second straight match with 11 on the evening while hitting .364.
• The Panthers held Liberty to a .068 attack percentage behind 9.0 blocks and 19 digs from freshman Abby Bottomley.
• High Point advances to the Big South Championship match to face the winner of No. 2 Radford and No. 6 Winthrop at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.
RADFORD, Va. – The High Point University volleyball team secured a spot in Sunday’s Big South Championship with a 3-0 sweep of Liberty in Radford, Va. on Saturday evening.
The top-seeded Panthers (24-6, 16-0) played one of their best defensive matches of the season racking up 9.0 blocks and 46 digs while holding the Flames (12-19, 8-8) to a .068 attack percentage.
High Point opened the match with a hard-fought 25-23 win before cruising to a 25-16 victory in the second frame. However, with its season on the line, Liberty battled back from two four-point deficits to lead the third 17-14 before HPU pulled out a 25-22 triumph.
“I thought the team played well especially with this being the first match of a tournament because sometimes you have to settle nerves and we handled that well and looked relaxed,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “The first set was the best of the three on both sides of the net, but we were able to continue that in the second and take advantage of our opportunities. In the third, there were streaks of good and bad play, but we were able to close it out. Overall it feels good to be able to advance against a really good team and we’re happy to get the win.”
Freshman Katie Doering racked up a career-high 11 kills while hitting at a .364 clip to go along with two blocks. Joining her in double figures, senior Haley Barnes recorded 12 kills, six digs and three solo blocks on the night.
“Tonight Liberty came out tournament-ready, so overall it was a very fun semifinal match,” Barnes said. “What made us successful throughout the night was our execution of the little things. We played hard as a team and had many positive contributions from everyone. We’re looking forward to the excitement of the championship match tomorrow.”
Leading the stellar defensive effort, freshman Abby Bottomley racked up 19 of HPU’s 46 digs. Meanwhile, junior Katie Tylman recorded four blocks while juniors Molly Livingston and Jordan Hefner three apiece. HPU and Liberty finished the match tied with 9.0 blocks each.
Orchestrating the offense, sophomore Jenna Smith notched 21 digs while senior Carly Jimenez chipped in with 14. Thanks to the distribution, HPU outhit the Flames .222 to .068 in the win.
Rounding out the offense, Tylman tallied eight kills as Livingston registered seven.
HPU advances to its third Big South Championship and is 2-0 all-time in the title match. The win also extends High Point’s winning streak to 19 matches and gives the team 24 victories, which is tied for the second-most single-season wins since the programed moved to D-I competition.
In the opening frame, the Panthers racked up four early blocks as the teams split the first 42 points that included several lengthy points. Barnes, though, broke the tie with her third kill of the set and four points later ended the set with her fourth, 25-23.
The Purple & White wouldn’t need any late-set dramatics in the second frame as they held the Flames to a -.053 attack percentage. Bottomley was the key racking up eight digs for the second straight set while the front row added two more blocks en route to a 25-16 victory.
After the break, HPU built 4-1 and 11-6 leads before the Flames stormed back to build a 17-14 advantage. However, after back-to-back kills from Doering and Barnes the Panthers surged back ahead 20-19.
But again, Liberty responded taking a 22-21 lead. Tylman, then, evened the score with a kill before two attack errors and a block by Tylman and Hefner sent HPU to the finals with a 25-22 win.
With the win, HPU advances to its second straight Big South Championship game where they will meet the winner No. 2 Radford and No. 6 Winthrop at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.