HPU Volleyball Panthers Drop Season Opener at Auburn, 3-0

• HPU fell in its season opener at Auburn Friday night in head coach Ryan Meek’s first game in charge of the program
• Sophomore Abby Bottomley led the Panthers with 21 digs
• Freshman Mackenzi Thornburg recorded a double-double in her collegiate debut with 13 assists and 10 digs

AUBURN, Ala. — The High Point University volleyball team opened the season Friday (Aug. 24), falling at Auburn, 25-21, 25-19 and 28-26 in the War Eagle Invitational.

It was the first game for the Panthers (0-1) under first-year head coach Ryan Meek. Sophomore Abby Bottomley led the HPU with 21 digs, the 12th time in her career of 20 or more digs, while seniors Abby Broadstreet and Molly Livingston each recorded eight kills.

Senior Jordan Hefner led HPU with five blocks, while freshman Mackenzi Thornburg tallied a double-double with 13 assists and 10 digs.

“We played with and had chances against a team that I think will be an NCAA team come November,” Meek said. “We knew when we scheduled that we’d have some close matches that could go either way and unfortunately this one didn’t go our way. With that said there’s a lot to learn from tonight and I’m excited to see how we respond tomorrow against Michigan.”

In the first set, the two teams were tied 11 times. High Point tallied three points in a row to knot the score at 20-20, but the Tigers came out of the timeout and went on a 5-1 run to claim the set, 25-21.

In the second, a Hefner kill closed the Auburn lead to 20-19, but the Tigers pulled off the next five to win the frame, 25-19.

The Panthers fought off two match points in the third on a pair of Broadstreet kills. After a Livingston kill, the Tigers pulled off the next three points to finish the match.

The Purple & White are back in action Saturday (Aug. 25) with a matchup against Michigan at noon.