Site: Lynchburg, Va. (Vines Center)
Score: Liberty 3, High Point 1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20)
Records: LU: 21-11, HPU: 21-13
LYNCHBURG, Va. – The High Point University volleyball team saw its season end in the second round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship on Sunday afternoon (Dec. 8) with a 3-1 loss to Liberty University. Freshman Annie Sullivan tallied a career-high 22 kills in the match, and was joined in double digits by classmate Megan Kratzer with 14.
“It was disappointing to not see us repeat our performance from last night,” head coach Ryan Meek said after the loss. “Give a lot of credit to Liberty because they played great but I don’t think we battled at the level we need to in order to beat a good team. We made too many mental mistakes and didn’t make the plays we needed to in order to have success.”
The first set was close early, with Liberty leading by as many as three, 7-10. That was the Lady Flames’ largest lead of the opening set, as High Point proceeded to go on a 13-3 run to swing the set in the Panthers’ favor, 20-13. The run had two smaller runs making it up, with a four-point run followed by a five-point run, with a pair of Panther points in between. Junior Kassidy Dickerson had two service aces in the five-point run, HPU’s first two of the match.
Liberty fought back late in the set, cutting the lead to two with the Panthers sitting on set point, 24-22. Sullivan wasn’t going to let the set go any longer, powering the set point past the Liberty blockers to close it out, 25-22. She picked up right where she left off in the fourth set yesterday, racking up seven kills and hitting .400 in the opening frame. Junior Abby Bottomley kept busy on the back end for the Purple and White in the first, recording nine digs in the set and cleanly receiving all seven serves she received.
High Point started to pull away in the middle part of the second set, with kills from Kratzer and fellow freshmen Maggie Salley, and Kaley Rammelsberg giving the Panthers a four-point lead, 13-9. Liberty answered shortly after with a 4-1 run to tie things up at 18 apiece and then took the lead at 22-21. HPU only mustered one more point after that, with the Lady Flames taking the set 25-22 to level the score of the match.
The lead flip-flopped in the middle of the third set before Liberty put together a run of seven straight points to take a 16-10 lead. High Point battled back to take six of the next seven, with two kills and an ace from Kratzer and a pair of kills from Sullivan. The teams then traded three-point runs before LU won four in a row to get to set point, 24-19. Sullivan notched her 20th kill of the day to get the Panthers to 20 points but Liberty responded with a kill to take the set and the lead in the match.
Similar to the second set, High Point went on a run in the middle of the fourth set to take the lead, 10-8. Freshman Sarah Malone picked up two service aces on the five-point run, with Kratzer adding a kill and Liberty’s two errors rounding the run out. The Lady Flames answered and tied things up at 15-15 before taking the lead. Liberty lost the lead once but regained it on a four-point run to take the lead for good. LU led 23-19 before Bottomley picked up her first kill since September for High Point’s final point. The Lady Flames picked up the last two points needed to take the set and the match and advance to the quarterfinals of the NIVC.
Bottomley finished the match with 26 digs, moving her season total to 673, the second-most in a single season in program history, 15 shy of matching the school record. She ends her junior year with a career total of 1,799, 88 away from second place in the school record books and 597 from the career lead.
Sullivan’s 22 kills are the most from any Panther this year, the only HPU player to record over 20 kills in a single match this year. It’s the most for a High Point player since Haley Barnes put up 22 at Georgia on Sept. 1, 2017.