Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 3, Winthrop 0 (25-13, 25-17, 25-21)
Records: HPU 10-0 (10-0 Big South), WU 5-5 (5-5 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Thursday, March 18, 2021 — at Charleston Southern (Charleston, S.C.) 6 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University volleyball team reached double digits in the win column on Friday (March 12) with a sweep of Winthrop University.
With all 10 wins coming to start the season, it’s the fifth time in program history that the Panthers have won double-digit games in a row, and the first since winning 12 straight during the 2018 season. High Point has dominated during the stretch to start the year, only losing two sets so far in the first 10 matches, taking sets at a 93.8% clip.
“Anytime you get a 2-0 series in conference it’s huge,” head coach Ryan Meek said after the match. “I thought our defense was lights out in the first two sets. [Winthrop] only had nine total kills through two sets and were hitting negative so I thought our defense showed up. In the third set I thought we turned the gas off a little bit. They switched to passing with two and we just pumped balls right into their passers. There wasn’t much aggression from us behind the line but I’m happy we pulled it out. These are the sets I’ve seen us lose in the past but we stayed together and stayed tough and pulled it out.”
HPU’s defense continues to be a key piece to the Panthers’ success, holding Winthrop to hitting just .040 in the match. It’s the third-lowest hitting percentage the Purple and White have held an opponent to this season and marked the sixth straight match that High Point has held its opponent to hitting less than .100. HPU’s defense on the season improved to .061 with the win, second in the country only to fellow Triad school North Carolina A&T.
Madison Smith led High Point’s offense for the third straight match and fourth of the last five with 13 kills on Friday. Joining her in double digits was Kaley Rammelsberg with 10 on 20 attempts with just one error for a match-high .450 hitting percentage.
Abby Bottomley had another strong performance in the back row, leading the team with 18 digs. Maria Miggins finished with 11 digs to go along with a match-high 18 assists for her second double-double of the season.
High Point got the match started as good as it could have, winning the first eight points of the opening set. Macy Miller was back serving to kick things off and picked up two service aces to go with two kills from Smith and four Winthrop errors. The set stayed out of reach at a six-point or greater difference until the Eagles took five of six to make it 16-11. The Panthers turned the jets back on after that, only losing two more points to take the first set convincingly, 25-13.
Winthrop had its first lead of the match early in the second set, leading by as many as four, 10-6. HPU then took eight of the next nine thanks to three kills from Smith, two from Maggie Salley, and a solo block from Rammelsberg to take the lead 14-11. The Eagles leveled the set at 16 apiece before another dominant run from the Panthers to finish the set out. HPU took the next eight points to get to set point, with Gabrielle Idlbird involved in five of those points in a row. She picked up a pair of block assists with Sopheea Mink, a solo block, and two kills. Winthrop got one more point before the set was over but a kill from Annie Sullivan gave it to High Point and put the Purple and White one set away from their 10th victory on the year.
The third set was neck-and-neck throughout, with the score tied a total of 15 times after 0-0 and the lead changing hands six times. HPU had the largest lead of the set at three points, 8-5, before Winthrop tied it back up at nine. The teams traded sideouts up to the media timeout before the Eagles took a two-point lead at 19-17. It was all Panthers from then on as High Point took the next six to get within two of the win thanks to back-to-back aces from Bottomley, who then capped the match off by setting up Miggins for the kill.
High Point returns to the road next week for its final matches of the regular season away from the Millis Center. The Panthers travel south to face Big South No. 2 Charleston Southern on Thursday (March 18) and Friday (March 19).