Kratzer’s Big Day Powers High Point Volleyball Past CSU

Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 3, Charleston Southern 1 (25-16, 25-13, 23-25, 25-10)
Records: HPU: 20-10 (12-1 Big South), CSU: 13-14 (5-8 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, Nov. 16 — vs. Presbyterian (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.), 2 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Three Panthers recorded double-digit kills in the High Point University volleyball team’s four-set victory over Charleston Southern Friday night (Nov. 15). Reigning Big South Freshman of the Week Megan Kratzer led the team with 15 kills and added seven service aces, the most since Megan Smith served up seven aces at Coastal Carolina on Oct. 15, 2010. Joining her in double digits were sophomore Gabrielle Idlebird with 12 and fellow freshman Kaley Rammelsberg with 11.

“I thought it was a great match,” said head coach Ryan Meek. “I thought Charleston Southern played great. We kind of didn’t respond to their challenge a little bit, which was upsetting to see in the third set. We talk about response a lot and we responded in the fourth set and that’s what we love to see.”

The Panthers took an early lead in the match, going on a four-point run with kills from Idlebird and Rammelsberg to open a 7-3 lead. Charleston Southern tied it up at 10-10 but High Point answered with a 13-3 run to regain the lead at 23-13, with back-to-back aces from Kratzer in the middle of the run to help shift the momentum HPU’s way. The Panthers got the final two points they needed to close out the set at 25-16, with kills coming from freshman Annie Sullivan and junior Ali Thanhauser. Kratzer, Idlebird, and Rammelsberg each ended the first set with four kills to their names.

High Point controlled the second set from the beginning as well, taking a 2-1 lead and never trailing in the set again. The Purple and White rattled off six-straight points with the score tied at eight to take a 14-8 lead, which it wouldn’t lose. Kratzer and Rammelsberg each had two kills during the run and senior Jenna Weidner dropped in a service ace for good measure.

HPU closed the second set in dominant fashion, winning nine of the last 10 points to take the set 25-13. Once again Kratzer picked up back-to-back aces in the run and Idlebird had five of her seven kills in the set in the final 10 points.

It looked like the Panthers were headed for their third straight sweep, taking a commanding lead in the third set, 10-2. Two kills from freshman Sopheea Mink and one from Kratzer got things going in the set and Kratzer added her fifth and sixth aces of the night, coming on the bookends of a pair of kills from Sullivan, part of her six in the final two sets. The Buccaneers started to climb back from that deficit, winning seven of the next eight to make it a two-point set. HPU tried to pull away again but a 6-1 run from CSU knotted the set at 15-all. The visitors took the lead at 19-18 and only lost it once when High Point tied it up at 22-22 before Charleston Southern forced a fourth set by taking the third, 25-23.

High Point got back to business in the fourth set, going on a 9-2 run to make it 11-4, with the lead never getting below five points after that. Sophomore setter Mackenzi Thornburg went on a service run, helped by a kill from Rammelsberg and a pair from Sullivan to go along with an ace to push the lead to 10, 16-6. The Panthers went on a 9-2 run to finish the set out at 25-10, HPU’s largest set victory since defeating Campbell 25-8 in the opening set of High Point’s sweep of the Fighting Camels earlier in the season. Kratzer picked up a kill for point 23 to go back and serve to close out the match. She served up her seventh ace of the day to match Smith’s mark from nine years ago, and a kill from Thanhauser on match-point sealed the deal.

The Panthers finish the regular season tomorrow (Nov. 16) against Presbyterian at 2 p.m. High Point will celebrate its two seniors, Weidner and Jenna Smith prior to the match with a senior day celebration named ‘Jenna Day’. HPU has already been confirmed as the No. 2 seed in the Big South Tournament and will play next in the tournament semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. The tournament is hosted by Winthrop in Rock Hill, S.C.