Site: Spartanburg, S.C. (G.B. Hodge Center)
Score: High Point 3, USC Upstate 0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-20)
Records: HPU 8-0 (8-0 Big South), UPST 1-7 (1-7 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Thursday, March 11, 2021 — vs. Winthrop (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.) 6 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – High Point University volleyball head coach Ryan Meek earned his 50th win as the leader of the Panthers as HPU won its seventh match in a row in straight sets and eighth match overall with a 3-0 victory over USC Upstate Friday afternoon (March 5).
Meek is now 50-23 in his 73 matches at High Point, becoming the fastest coach in the program’s Division I history to reach the 50-win mark
The seven wins in straight sets are the second-most in program history, one away from matching the record set in 2017. Another sweep would also match the program record for consecutive sets won as HPU has taken its last 23 sets played, three shy of the program record of 26, set during that same stretch.
Eight consecutive wins in conference play is currently tied for the fourth-longest Big South winning streak in program history and is the best start to the conference schedule HPU has had since going undefeated in 2017. The Panthers have also now won their last 10 conference matches away from home, the second-longest streak in program history, three behind the mark set during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
“Halfway through the season, with six of the eight on the road, we sit along in first having only lost one set,” Meek said reflecting on his team’s start to the season. “I thought today was up and down but I like where we are at this point. Getting everyone some playing time makes the bus ride home a lot better. We will have a tough test in our gym next week against Winthrop and I’m excited to see us come out and compete.”
Madison Smith led the way offensively with 14 kills, twice as many as the next Panther in Annie Sullivan with seven, and despite Smith only playing in the first two sets. HPU served up seven aces as a team in the win, the third-most this season and the sixth time the Purple and White have recorded at least five. Mackenzi Thornburg led the team with a career-high three aces while Sarah Malone added two.
Once again, the Panthers’ defense held its opponent to hitting under .100, forcing Upstate to hit .059 in the match. It’s the sixth time this season that HPU’s opponent has hit below .100 and the fourth such match in a row. The defensive effort improved High Point’s already nation-leading defense, with the opponent’s hitting percentage on the season sitting at .065.
Abby Bottomley and Macy Miller continued to lead High Point’s defensive effort away from the net, finishing with 15 and 12 digs, respectively. For Bottomley, it was the 100th time out of 105 matches in her career that she’s either led HPU in digs or tied for the team lead in the category, and was her 101st match with double-digit digs after notching her 100th last night.
High Point began to pull away in the first set after winning six straight points early to make it 10-3 and force an Upstate timeout. Smith recorded back-to-back kills to start the run and then picked up one more later in it before Sullivan put the Panthers at 10. The Spartans answered with four straight but HPU responded by taking 11 of the next 13 for a commanding 21-9 lead.
Sullivan had two kills early in the run and combined with Gabrielle Idlebird for a block before Idlebird picked up her second kill of the set. Upstate went on a small run and took six of the next seven to make it 22-15 but Smith came through with three more kills to secure the opening set for the Panthers, 25-16.
HPU was all over the hosts from the start of the second set, taking the first seven points before Upstate called a timeout. Idlebird started the set with a kill and then combined with Sopheea Mink and Smith for back-to-back blocks, with Smith adding two more kills to finish the run out. The Spartans finally got on the board in the set after the timeout, but High Point kept the pressure on by winning seven of the next eight to lead 14-2.
Upstate only won a total of six more points in the set as HPU was able to send out some freshmen to finish the job as Catherine Waldeck teamed up with Sullivan for a block to get the Purple and White to 20 points, 20-5. Waldeck then picked up her first kill of the match to get the Panthers to set point before Haley Maeurer connected on her first career kill to send the match to the third set, 25-8.
High Point had another great start to the third set, going up 7-1 early with multiple kills from Kaley Rammelsberg and Megan Kratzer. Upstate started to chip away at the lead, cutting it to as little as four at 9-5. The Spartans stayed with the Panthers and eventually made it a three-set match at 20-17 after taking four straight points late in the set. HPU won the next two and then traded points with Upstate to bring home the victory at 25-20 with a kill from Kratzer, giving her a season-high four kills in the match.
The Panthers return home next week to host defending Big South champion Winthrop for two matches in the Millis Center on Thursday (March 11) and Friday (March 12).