Site: Asheville, N.C. (Justice Center)
Score: High Point 3, UNC Asheville 0 (25-14, 25-12, 25-18)
Records: HPU 10-5 (2-0 Big South), AVL 2-9 (0-2 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 — at North Carolina A&T (Greensboro, N.C.), 6 p.m.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The High Point University volleyball team made it a perfect 2-0 weekend to start Big South Conference play in the 2021 season after a three-set victory over UNC Asheville on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 25).
High Point dominated each of the first two sets, winning by double digits in each. The Panthers took the opener 25-14 and then cruised to a 25-12 win in the second. The third set was slightly closer but a strong push from the Purple and White midway through the frame powered HPU to a 25-18 win for their eighth consecutive straight-set victory over the Bulldogs.
The Panthers hit over .300 for the third time this season and the second time in the last four matches after hitting .319 against Asheville. HPU only committed 10 attacking errors in the match for the third time this season with 10 or fewer errors and the eighth time under 15.
High Point’s defense was just as impressive as its offense as it held Asheville to hitting just .010 on the day – the lowest any opponent has hit against the Purple and White this season and the second time the Panthers have held an opponent under .100. A big part of HPU’s defensive success came at the net as High Point totaled 11 blocks in the match, crossing the double-digit mark for the third time this year. Two different Panthers had five blocks on the day in Jackie Joyce and Madison Smith with six and five, respectively.
It was a record-setting win for the Panthers as it marked HPU’s 14th consecutive win away from home in Big South play for a new program record. It also pushed the Purple and White’s overall Big South winning streak up to 18 matches dating back to the 2019 season, just two wins away from matching the program record of 20 consecutive conference wins from the 2016-18 seasons.
“This was a great team win,” head coach Ryan Meek said after his team’s 2-0 start to conference play. “We had contributions up and down the roster with Jackie being our leading point scorer. I thought we stepped it up defensively and took care of ball control. We’ll be ready to bounce and play on Tuesday at A&T.”
Gabrielle Idlebird led the Purple and White in kills for the second straight match with 10 to be the only Panther in double digits. Dylan Maberry was close behind with nine and Joyce added seven to go with her six blocks. Joyce and Idlebird were very efficient in their attacks as well, with Joyce hitting .875 with her seven kills on eight attempts while Idlebird connected at a .588 clip with no errors on 17 attempts.
Mackenzi Thornburg made it eight straight matches she’s led the team in assists as she dished out 20 helpers for the second match in a row. Maria Miggins had 14 assists and added one of HPU’s six service aces. Jenny Wessling was the only Panther in double digits on the backend with 11 digs to lead the team in the category for the 12th match this year.
High Point only led by one in the first set midway through the frame at 13-12 before breaking it wide open. The Panthers won the next six as part of an 11-1 run that put HPU on the cusp of taking the frame. Asheville got one more point but missed on the next serve to give the Panthers the frame, 25-14.
The Purple and White jumped out to a big lead early in the second set and didn’t look back. HPU won 10 of the first 13 points and led by at lead four the rest of the way. High Point doubled up the Bulldogs 21-10 before Asheville picked up its final two points of the frame ahead of a 4-0 capped off by a kill from Joyce for the Panthers’ biggest victory in a set this season, 25-12.
Asheville won the first point of the third set and the teams were tied at six after 12 rallies. HPU won the next three to take the lead and didn’t give it up the remainder of the way. Both teams sided out above 50% in the final set, with High Point leading the way at 73% to the Bulldogs’ 54%.
High Point has its closest match to home of the season to date on Tuesday (Sept. 28) when the Panthers’ 17-match road trip continues at Big South newcomer North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C. at 6 p.m.