Site: High Point, N.C. (Millis Center)
Score: High Point 3, Gardner-Webb 0 (25-7, 25-13, 25-14)
Records: HPU 15-0 (15-0 Big South), GWU 4-11 (4-11 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Friday, April 2, 2021 — vs. Gardner-Webb (Millis Center, High Point, N.C.) 2 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University volleyball team stayed unbeaten on the season with a three-set victory over Gardner-Webb University on Thursday afternoon (April 1).
High Point put on a defensive clinic in the match, racking up a season-high 11 blocks in the contest and holding Gardner-Webb to hitting -.074. It’s the second time this season that HPU has held its opponent negative in a match after holding Presbyterian to hitting -.044 in the second match of the season.
Abby Bottomley and Gabrielle Idlebird were the key contributors to High Point’s strong defensive effort, with Bottomley totaling 14 digs and Idlebird racking up seven blocks. Sopheea Mink was also involved at the net, matching her career-high with five blocks. Mink also led the way offensively with eight kills and a hitting percentage of .500, both tops among all players in the match.
The Panthers weren’t too shabby offensively either, hitting .378 for the third-best hitting percentage in a match for the Purple and White this season and the fifth total time hitting over .300 on the year. High Point only committed six attacking errors all night long, with none of them coming in the first set where HPU hit .524. The Panthers were also very effective on sideouts, converting on 28 of their possible 36 opportunities for a rate of .778.
For the second match in a row, High Point was able to empty its bench, playing all 17 players that were dressed. The majority saw action in multiple sets as 16 played in two different sets while 11 saw action in all three.
“I was a little concerned with how we were going to show up after clinching last weekend,” head coach Ryan Meek said after the win. “Were we going to be going for 16-0 or we going to come in and not be focused and I think we answered that quickly, going up 7-2 in the first set. We blocked 11 balls. That’s been a big focus of ours so to block almost four balls a set is huge. Anytime you can hold a team negative for the match it’s a great defensive effort. To couple that with .378 hitting is big as well so we really excelled. We served really well and everyone that had a chance to get in was great. We played everybody we dressed, which doesn’t happen a lot, and they all came in and excelled.”
The first set was all High Point from the start, picking up eight of the first 10 points. It was 10-4 before a 10-1 run put the Panthers five points away from taking the first set. The Runnin’ Bulldogs took the next point before HPU rattled off four straight to get to set point. A service error flipped serve back to GWU but the visitors followed suit and put one in the net to give the set to High Point, 25-7.
Gardner-Webb came out hot in the second set with a 5-1 lead, with the lone Panther point coming from a block by Annie Sullivan and Kaley Rammelsberg. High Point didn’t trail for much longer after that, winning the next eight points to take a 9-5 lead that it didn’t lose. The difference stayed around four points until a five-point run from the Panthers put it out of reach. The teams traded sideouts for a bit until the Purple and White rattled off four straight at 21-13 to take the frame, capped off by a block from Idlebird and Madison Smith.
The third set was closer to the first than the second, with High Point taking a commanding 11-2 lead off the jump. Mink and Idlebird combined for three blocks on the run, part of six Gardner-Webb errors in the first 13 points. The Panthers pushed the lead to double digits at 14-3 and led by as many as 15 at 21-6. HPU had doubled up the visitors when it reached set point at 24-12 but lost two points before finally finishing the match with a block from Megan Kratzer and Catherine Waldeck.
High Point will look to complete its second perfect Big South campaign in the last four years tomorrow (April 2) when the two teams play again at 2 p.m.