HPU VB Panthers Dominate Upstate

Site: Spartanburg, S.C. (G.B. Hodge Center)
Score: High Point 3, USC Upstate 0 (25-12, 25-17, 25-15)
Records: HPU 7-0 (7-0 Big South), UPST 1-6 (1-6 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Friday, March 5, 2021 — at USC Upstate (Spartanburg, S.C.) 4 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University volleyball team continued its torrid start to the season with another victory in straight sets on Thursday evening (March 4), this time over USC Upstate. The Panthers have now won their last 20 sets dating back to the season opener, and have only lost one set on the year.

Annie Sullivan was the only Panther with double-digit kills, finishing with 10 in the match. Right behind Sullivan were Gabrielle Idlebird and Sopheea Mink, each with 10, and Madison Smith and Kaley Rammelsberg with eight apiece. Only Megan Kratzer had a kill outside of those five, ending the match with one. The Purple and White’s offense was very efficient, hitting .385 with only five errors for the second-best hitting percentage for the Panthers this season and best in a three-set match.

High Point’s defense had another strong outing, finishing with eight blocks and 56 digs as a team, tied for the most blocks all season and the most digs in any match so far this year. Idlebird had five blocks to lead the team while Abby Bottomley and Macy Miller anchored the backend with 17 and 13 digs, respectively. HPU held Upstate to hitting just .065 in the match, the third straight match that High Point’s opponent has hit below .100. Thursday’s performance was enough to keep the Panthers’ defense atop the NCAA with a .066 opponent hitting percentage on the year.

“We had a really good performance today,” head coach Ryan Meek said after the match. “I thought we limited errors and competed on defense. We only made five hitting errors on 104 swings, which is very low. I still want to see us serve a bit tougher and with fewer mistakes, but we can fix that tomorrow. We’re looking forward to getting back out and competing tomorrow.”

The Panthers jumped out to a big lead in set one early, scoring six straight to take a 9-2 advantage, with the run bookended by kills from Rammelsberg. High Point continued the pressure with an 8-3 run to lead by double digits, 17-6. The lead in the opening set hovered around the 10-point mark for the next few points before a five-point run closed the opener out at 25-12 with a block from Mink and Idlebird. HPU’s defense was stout from the get-go, forcing Upstate to hit -.054 in the first set.

High Point took the first three points of the middle frame and held the lead the rest of the way. The Spartans came within one point three times during the stanza, finally at 9-8, before the Purple and White took six of the next seven to extend their lead to six, 15-9. Upstate made it a four-point set later, but once again the Panthers had a late run to close things out, with Idlebird and Sullivan combining for three kills and a block for the final four points to take the set, 25-17.

Upstate hung in the third set early, leading 6-5 for its first lead of the day. The teams were tied at seven before HPU blew the set wide open by going on an 8-1 run to lead 15-8. Idlebird started and ended the run with kills and Mink added three to go along with a trio of Spartan errors. High Point continued to extend its lead throughout the set, leading by as many as 10 at match point, 24-14. Upstate got one more but the final kill from Smith slammed the door shut to give the Panthers their seventh win in a row.

High Point and USC Upstate are back in action tomorrow (March 5) to finish the series, with first serve scheduled for 4 p.m.