Site: Pittsburgh, Pa. (Fitzgerald Field House)
Match One Score: High Point 3, Bowling Green 1 (18-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-21)
Records: HPU 6-3, BGSU 3-5
Match Two Score: #12 BYU 3, High Point 0 (17-25, 19-25, 19-25)
Records: BYU 8-1, HPU 6-4
Next HPU Event: Friday, September 17, 2021 — vs. Kennesaw State (Greenville, S.C.), 1 p.m.
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The High Point University volleyball team split a pair of matches on the final day of the Panther Challenge on Saturday (Sept. 11), defeating Bowling Green State University in four sets before falling in three to No. 12-ranked Brigham Young University.
“I thought it was a great day for us,” head coach Ryan Meek said at the end of the day. “We saw a lot of different players step up and contribute in big ways. We’ve been waiting to make plays in big moments and we saw that today. We need to keep working on consistency and details, but I like where we’re headed.”
Sophomore Dylan Maberry led HPU with 27 kills over the two matches and was one of two Panthers with double-digit kills in each match of the day. The other was senior Gabrielle Idlebird, who finished with 23. Idlebird’s classmate Mackenzi Thornburg finished with 38 assists over the two matches while fellow setter Maria Miggins added 13 in each match. Connelly Renfrow stepped into the libero spot for the day and finished with 32 digs over the seven sets, including her first 20-dig performance against Bowling Green.
Maberry had a strong first match, finishing with 16 kills and a .250 hitting percentage in the morning, with eight of the kills coming in the third set. Joining her in double digits against the Falcons were Idlebird and Sydney Palazzolo, with 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Renfrow put the libero jersey on for the first time against BGSU and recorded a career-best 20 digs in the victory, with Palazzolo adding 12 digs for her fourth double-double of the season.
High Point won the first point of the day thanks to a match-opening service error from Bowling Green. That was the only time the Panthers led in the opening set of the day as the Falcons took the lead and didn’t lose it for the duration of the frame on the way to a 25-18 win in the set.
The second and third sets were completely different stories, with HPU never trailing throughout the two frames. Palazzolo served up an ace to start the set that kicked off an 8-2 run from the Purple and White to begin the stanza. High Point’s lead only dipped as low as three points the rest of the way and the Panthers evened the score at one set apiece with a 25-19 victory in the second. Both teams hit above .300 in the frame, with HPU hitting .429 with only one error.
High Point kept the momentum going in the third set and didn’t trail for the second frame in a row. Things were tied up as late as 9-9 before HPU went on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good, winning the set with the same score as the previous one, 25-19. Maberry played a key role in High Point’s success in the third set, finishing with eight kills and just one error on 16 attempts in the set for a team-leading 12 kills heading into the fourth.
The final set was by far the tightest battle, with 12 tied scores and two lead changes, the only set with more than one lead change in it. High Point trailed early at 6-3 but fought back to tie it up and eventually retook the lead at 14-13. Bowling Green tied it up again at 16 but the Purple and White never trailed again, taking the match with a kill from Palazzolo.
Maberry led the Panthers with 11 kills in the second match and Idlebird was close behind with 10 to be the only HPU players in double digits in the afternoon. Renfrow led the Purple and White in digs for the second straight match with 12 and Sarah Malone chipped in 10 for her first career double-digit dig performance. HPU out-blocked the Cougars, 9-8, thanks in large part to seven blocks from Idlebird and five from Sopheea Mink.
High Point came out with a lot of energy in the second match of the day and held the lead in the opening set multiple times. The largest lead came at 7-4 off of an ace from Idlebird and the last lead came at 13-12 thanks to a kill from Megan Kratzer. It was mostly BYU after that in the opener as the Cougars went on a 13-4 run from that point to take the set, 25-17.
The second set was better for the Panthers but BYU still controlled the majority of the action. HPU hit .243 in the second set and committed only three attack errors but it wasn’t enough to take one from the Cougars. BYU led by as many as five at 15-10 before the Purple and White made it a two-point affair at 16-14. The Cougars then called a timeout and closed out the set on a 9-5 run to win the frame 25-19 and take a 2-0 advantage into the third.
High Point came out strong in the third frame and held a 14-10 lead midway through the set. The tide flipped shortly after as the Cougars took the next eight points as part of a 15-5 run to close out the set and complete the sweep.
The Panthers finish out the non-conference portion of their schedule next weekend in South Carolina, with matches against Kennesaw State and Furman at Furman on Friday (Sept. 17) before heading to the Palmetto State’s capitol for a match against No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday (Sept. 18).