Site: Greenville, S.C. (Alley Gym)
Match One Score: High Point 3, Kennesaw State 0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-16)
Records: HPU 7-4, KSU 6-5
Match Two Score: High Point 3, Furman 1 (25-17, 25-13, 20-25, 25-13)
Records: HPU 8-4, FU 5-5
Next HPU Event: Saturday, September 18, 2021 — at South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.), 4 p.m.
GREENVILLE, S.C. – The High Point University volleyball team won both matches it played in Greenville, S.C. on the campus of Furman University on Friday (Sept. 17).
The Panthers opened Friday with a 3-0 victory over Kennesaw State, HPU’s fifth sweep of the season, before finishing the day off with a four-set victory over the host Paladins. High Point was extremely efficient throughout the entire day, committing only 20 attack errors in the two matches combined. The Purple and White hit over .250 in both matches and finished Friday with a .291 hitting percentage for the day while holding Kennesaw State and Furman to hitting just .121 combined.
“I thought we showed up and played fantastic in two matches,” head coach Ryan Meek said at the day’s end. “Every time we were challenged, we responded and made a play to get or grow the lead. We still need to be more consistent in our execution and attention to detail but overall it was a great day where we picked up two good non-conference wins.”
Sophomore Dylan Maberry led HPU with 23 kills in the two matches, reaching the double-digit mark in both matches with 10 in the first and 13 in the nightcap. Junior Maggie Salley put up eight in each match for a total of 16 while redshirt junior Madison Smith recorded 10 kills against Furman to finish the day with 13. Senior Mackenzi Thornburg dished out 19 assists in each match to lead the team with 38 on the day while fellow setter Maria Miggins tallied 10 and 18.
Freshman libero Jenny Wessling led HPU’s backcourt defense with 38 digs, crossing over the 20-dig threshold with 21 against Furman. Wessling also made her presence felt offensively and recorded three kills over the two matches. Classmate Jackie Joyce was a stalwart at the net throughout the day and finished with a team-best nine blocks in the seven sets. Gabrielle Idlebird had seven denials on the day and Maberry finished with six, including two solo stuffs, with all six coming in the Furman match.
High Point only committed nine attack errors against Kennesaw State and hit .259 in the match. The Panthers held the Owls to hitting just .120 while forcing 21 Kennesaw errors, the fourth time this season HPU has held its opponent under .200 in the match. Both teams traded sideouts above 50% in each set, led by High Point’s rate of 81% in the final frame. The Purple and White ended the match with a sideout rate of 69% while Kennesaw State had a sideout clip of 55%.
Maberry led the team with 10 kills in the first match, with Salley and Idlebird close behind with eight and seven kills, respectively. Thornburg paced the Panthers in assists for the fourth consecutive match and added 15 digs for her second double-double of the season. Miggins also recorded double-digit assists in the match, finishing with 10 to go with her two block assists.
Wessling was back as HPU’s libero and led the team with 17 digs while Sydney Palazzolo reached double digits for the fifth time with 13 while also adding five kills and a service ace. Joyce was a menace at the net and was involved in four of High Point’s seven team blocks, with Smith and Idlebird chipping in on three blocks each.
The first set was the closest of the three between the Panthers and Owls and was tied as late as 22-22. Thornburg started the match off with a service ace, the first of five for HPU. Neither side led by more than three or had a run of more than three points, other than a four-point run from the Owls early in the frame to erase a 6-3 High Point lead. Kennesaw led by three at 22-19 before the Panthers rallied with three straight to tie it up thanks to kills from Idlebird and Thornburg and a bad set from the Owls. Maberry had a shot blocked on the next point to put Kennesaw two points away but a pair of Owl errors and a block from Joyce and Smith gave the Purple and White the three points they needed to take the set 25-23.
While the first set was closer in final score, the second set was tighter throughout the stanza, with the lead changing hands six times and the score deadlocked 12 different times. Kennesaw went on a 5-1 run to lead by three, 10-7, before High Point called a timeout. HPU won the next three out of the break to tie it back up, getting a kill from Wessling – the first of her career – and back-to-back blocks from Idlebird and Smith.
The lead changed hands three more times before the Panthers took control for good. Salley kicked off a 4-0 run to get to 20 points that featured another HPU player getting their first career kill, this time courtesy of Connelly Renfrow. Kennesaw pulled within one at 21-20 before High point took its final timeout, but the Owls could only muster one more point after that. The Panthers won four of the next five points coming out of the timeout and a service error into the net from Kennesaw State, one of a combined 17 service errors between the two teams, put High Point one set away from the sweep.
HPU only trailed once in the third set and it came after dropping the first point of the frame. The Panthers won the next three points and never looked back, holding onto the lead for the duration of the match. A bad serve from the Owls flipped service back over to Renfrow, and the sophomore delivered with back-to-back aces – part of her team-high three in the match to give the Purple and White a 10-5 lead in the third.
High Point got the lead up to six before the teams traded sideouts for 11 out of a stretch of 12 points that saw the Panthers reach the 20-point threshold. HPU didn’t lose a point after that and used three Kennesaw errors, a kill from Idlebird, and an ace from Palazzolo to complete the sweep, 25-16.
High Point took it to Furman early in the Panthers’ second match of the day, opening a double-digit lead in each of the first two sets while never trailing or even losing the lead in both. HPU hit .351 in the opening set and then had its best frame of the season in the second, hitting .526 with 10 kills and no errors on 19 attempts. The only set High Point didn’t hit over .300 in was the set it lost – the third set – but the Purple and White put that behind them and rebounded by hitting .345 in the fourth with a sideout rate of 84%. High Point hit .320 in the match as a whole for its second-best hitting percentage of the season and just the second match this year of hitting better than .300.
The two set wins of 25-13 in the second and fourth sets are tied for the largest margin of victory in a set for the Panthers this year with the third set from the sweep at Army. A large part of HPU’s dominance in those sets was its defense, as High Point finished the match with 12 blocks and 52 digs. The 12 blocks are the most this season and just the second time the Purple and White have recorded double-digit blocks in a match this season.
Maberry had double-digit digs for the second match in a row, finishing with a team-high 13 while also chipping in with a team-best six blocks. She only recorded two hitting errors against the Paladins to finish with a .379 hitting percentage. Smith joined Maberry in double digits with 10 kills for the most she’s had all season long. Palazzolo had her most efficient match offensively yet against Furman, finishing with a .545 hitting percentage with six kills and no errors on 11 attempts. Salley was close behind with a .417 mark after recording eight kills with one error on 15 swings.
Wessling crossed the 20-dig mark for the second time this season and also pitched in two kills in the first set after recording her first career kill against Kennesaw State earlier in the day. Thornburg and Miggins were almost neck-and-neck setting the ball, finishing with 19 and 18 assists, respectively.
Nine different Panthers recorded a kill in the first set that saw 15 members of the Purple see the court. Maberry started HPU off with a kill on the first rally and High Point quickly turned that into a 13-3 run. The run featured both kills in the match from Wessling and back-to-back service aces from Sarah Malone. HPU led by as many as 13 at 18-5 before Furman started to claw back and won eight of the next 10 to make it 20-13. The Paladins got as close as six at 23-17 before Maberry shut the door with a kill and a solo block.
High Point also took a commanding lead early in the second set and forced a Furman timeout with an 8-1 advantage after a block from Smith and Idlebird. The lead grew to eight at 10-2 and then nine at 14-5 before reaching double digits at 19-9, forcing another Paladin pause. Furman only won four more points after its second timeout and a solo block from Maberry played a factor in the final sequence again as HPU took the frame 25-13 to lead 2-0 in the match.
Furman didn’t go down without a fight and took its first lead of the match by winning the first point in the third set. After the teams traded sideouts for the next two points, the Paladins led all the way until a 4-0 run bookended by kills from Maberry brought the Panthers level in the game once again. Four sideouts followed before High Point won two points in a row thanks to a block from Salley and Idlebird to take the lead in the set for the first time. It didn’t last long as Furman won the next three and then six of the next nine to take the stanza by five and force a fourth set.
High Point returned to its form from the first two sets in the fourth and never trailed in the frame, only allowing Furman to knot it up once at 5-5. HPU won the next six after that point, part of a larger 11-2 run that pushed the lead up to nine points, 16-7. The Panthers kept the pressure on and got a sideout at every possible opportunity the rest of the way to cruise to a 25-13 win in the frame, capped off by a kill from Salley to get the victory.
The Panthers wrap-up their non-conference schedule tomorrow (Sept. 18) with a match at SEC-foe South Carolina at 4 p.m. HPU volleyball fans will still have to wait a while into conference play before seeing the Purple and White at home as High Point starts Big South action with four matches on the road, beginning next Friday and Saturday at USC Upstate and UNC Asheville, respectively.