HPU Volleyball Panthers Pick Up Series Sweep in Straight Sets

Site: Asheville, N.C. (Justice Center)
Score: High Point 3, UNC Asheville 0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-20)
Records: HPU 4-0 (4-0 Big South), AVL 0-4 (0-4 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Thursday, February 25, 2021 — vs. Radford (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.) 1 p.m.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The High Point University volleyball team made it back-to-back weekend sweeps with its third consecutive victory in straight sets with a 3-0 win over UNC Asheville Thursday afternoon (Feb. 18).

HPU has now won 11 consecutive sets on the season, dating back to the final two sets of the season opener at Presbyterian on Feb. 4, and have only lost one set so far in the four matches.

Three Panthers had double-digit kills in the match, led by sophomore Annie Sullivan with 13. She was followed by junior Gabrielle Idlebird with 11 on 18 attempts with no errors for a team-high .611 hitting percentage, and Sullivan’s classmate Kaley Rammelsberg with 10 kills. Idlebird also led the defensive charge at the net with a team-high three blocks, including two of the solo variety.

“I’m happy to escape with a win but we need to control our side of the net better,” head coach Ryan Meek said after his team’s fourth straight win to start the season. “I thought we limited our errors – especially attacking – but we made far too many ball control and blocking errors. Asheville made great adjustments and we did not adjust to what they were doing quickly or well enough. We need to get back in the gym and get a good week of practice in before we host Radford next week.”

High Point did do a good job of limiting its attacking errors in the match, committing just 11 over the three sets, down two from the previous day. That helped the Panthers hit .342 in the match, the second-best hitting percentage so far for HPU on the year and the best the Purple and White have had in a three-set match.

Once again, the Panthers came out and dominated the first set from the start, taking an 8-2 lead after the first 10 points. Sullivan and Idlebird were key players from the get-go, combining for six kills in those eight points and Idlebird picking up a block assist. Asheville didn’t let the lead grow much larger for a handful of points and even got the lead down to four before another kill from Idlebird sparked a 10-1 run for the Purple and White that put the set out of reach.

Sullivan added two more kills after Idlebird started the run, as did Maggie Salley. Abby Bottomley also picked up a pair of points on the run, serving up a couple of aces. Idlebird had the bookend points of the run with her fifth kill of the frame to make it 22-9. Asheville mounted a small comeback with a 5-1 stretch but HPU was able to get the job done, taking the set with a kill from Rammelsberg.

High Point took control of the second set earlier than the first, going on an 11-2 run after things were even at four. A Bulldog service error started the run, followed by a kill and a block from Madison Smith, joining up with Rammelsberg on the denial at the net. Rammelsberg then racked up kills on back-to-back points, with each one coming right at the as a result of bad passes on Asheville’s side. Rammelsberg and Smith each added one more kill during the run to give the Panthers a 15-6 lead midway through the second set.

HPU went on a 5-1 run a few points later to get to 20 points but the hosts responded with five straight and a 7-1 stretch to make it a five-point set, 21-16. The Panthers didn’t panic and only gave up one more point before Smith and Rammelsberg teamed up for their second block of the set to get to set-point before Smith notched her third kill of the stanza to give High Point 10 consecutive set victories.

Asheville had control of the third set early on thanks to a five-point run to give the hosts a 7-3 lead. HPU answered with five in a row of its own to retake the lead, which stayed at three points or fewer before the Panthers took four in a five-point stretch to make it 14-10. High Point’s lead was as large as five before the Bulldogs stormed back to cut it to two points, 19-17.

HPU’s trio of kill leaders in the match led the Purple and White’s final charge to the finish line, with Rammelsberg getting the side-out kill to gain serve, which Mackenzi Thornburg promptly turned into an ace. Rammelsberg picked up two more kills in a row after that and then Sullivan added up the 24th point of the set and Idlebird notched her 11th kill of the day to slam the door shut and secure the sweep.

High Point has its first home matches of the season next week when Radford comes to the Millis Center for a pair of 1 p.m. meetings on Thursday (Feb. 25) and Friday (Feb. 26).