Site: Lynchburg, Va. (Vines Center)
Score: High Point 3, Morehead State 1 (25-23, 16-25, 25-21, 25-21)
Records: HPU: 21-12, MSU: 23-10
Next HPU Event: Sunday, Dec. 8 — vs. Liberty OR La Salle in NIVC Second Round (Lynchburg, Va.), 3 p.m.
LYNCHBURG, Va. – The High Point University volleyball team trailed late in the fourth set but battled from behind to defeat Morehead State University 3-1 Saturday afternoon (Dec. 8) in round one of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. The win is the Panthers’ first postseason win outside of the conference tournament in program history. It was also HPU’s 21st win on the year, giving the Purple and White more than 20 wins in each of the last five seasons.
“It’s a special thing to see a team come together after a tough result,” head coach Ryan Meek said of his team’s performance. “Seeing the group play together and battle through adversity the past two weeks and today was really special as a coach. We have talked all year about ‘response’ and I felt today was a great response from a tough ending in the conference tournament and against a really good Morehead State team.
Morehead State took an early lead in the opening set and didn’t trail until the Panthers went on a three-point run to take the lead on a bad set by the Eagles. That was followed by a service ace from freshman Maria Miggins to make it a two-point lead. MSU took the lead again shortly after and led by two, 15-13, at the media timeout.
High Point came out of the timeout on a mission, taking five of the next six points to lead by two again, 18-16. HPU picked up two more aces during the run, coming from freshman Megan Kratzer and junior Kassidy Dickerson. The Eagles were able to tie the set up again and took the lead on a service ace of their own before High Point tied things up at 23-23 with a kill from Kratzer and won the next two to take the opening set.
The Eagles led early again in set two but the Panthers didn’t have an answer. Morehead State led by as many as five early on before HPU battled back to make it a one-point set at 12-11 on a kill from junior Ali Thanhauser. That was as close as High Point got in the rest of the set as MSU rattled off nine straight points to push the lead to 10, 21-11. The Purple and White won two in a row to stop the run but the teams traded sideouts for the remainder of the set, with the Eagles knotting the match up at one set apiece with a 25-16 victory in set two.
HPU switched things up in the third set, taking the first three points before Morehead State winning three in a row to tie it up early. The lead changed hands twice after that before the Panthers went on a 7-1 run to go up 13-8 with aces from Kratzer and freshman Sarah Malone on the run. High Point pushed the lead to as many as six at 17-11 before MSU won five of the next six to cut the lead to two.
Kratzer fired off a rocket of a kill to spark at four-point Panther run to put the set out of reach for the Eagles. Morehead State won three straight to cut the lead to three and forced Meek to take a timeout. The Panthers answered after the break, with freshman Annie Sullivan picking up set point to give HPU the set 25-21 and a 2-1 lead in the match.
High Point started hot in the fourth set, with Miggins picking up her second ace of the day on the opening serve of the set. The Panthers won the next four points, with a huge block from Thanhauser and freshman Maggie Salley playing a key role in the run. The magic faded fast, as Morehead State answered with a 5-0 run of its own, capped off with back-to-back aces before a High Point timeout.
The Eagles took the lead shortly after at 7-6 and then won four straight, again with back-to-back aces to push the lead to four at 13-9 before HPU called its second and final timeout of the set. Morehead State got the point after the timeout to lead by five, its largest lead of the set. High Point cut the deficit to four and then won four in a row to tie things up at 17-17. The Panthers stayed close and finally took the lead by three with a four-point run, putting them two points away from picking up the first postseason win outside the conference tournament in program history.
MSU picked up one more point before HPU took the last two it needed, sealing the deal with a block from Thanhauser and Sullivan. That was Sullivan’s only block of the set, but the freshman played a key role in High Point’s comeback, picking up six of her 14 kills in the final set, with five of them coming after the Panthers’ final timeout while down 13-9.
High Point is back in action in the second round of the NIVC tomorrow (Dec. 8), playing the winner of the Liberty vs. La Salle matchup. First serve is at 3 p.m. with the winner moving on to face the winner of Troy vs. Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals next week