Coming off of a 3-0 sweep of UNC Asheville in the conference quarterfinal last night, No. 5 seed Liberty fell to defending champion, No. 1 seed High Point, 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-22) in the Big South Volleyball Championship semifinal, Saturday at Radford's Dedmon Center.
With the win, High Point's 19th in a row, the Panthers (24-6) advance to tomorrow's championship match against the winner of tonight's semifinal between No. 2 seed Radford and No. 6 seed Winthrop. Liberty sees its season end at 12-19 after qualifying for the conference semifinal for the second straight year.
For the match, High Point outhit Liberty, .222-.068. Both teams recorded nine blocks, while High Point led, 3-2 in aces and Liberty held a 49-46 edge in digs.
The Panthers' Haley Barnes scored a match-high 12 kills, while Katie Doering followed with 11 kills. Abby Bottomley collected a match-best 19 digs, while Katie Tylman posted eight kills and three blocks.
Gabrielle Vess led Liberty with 11 kills to go along with 10 digs, recording her 12th double-double in her final career match. Casey Goodwin scored 10 kills, while Margaret Latchford collected a team-high 14 digs. Anna Gragg led all players with five blocks, while Amaya Williams dished out 17 assists and Jenna Culhan corralled 10 digs.
Set one was tight throughout, with seven ties and four lead changes. High Point led early, 11-7, and Liberty battled back into a tie at 17-17. With the scored tied at 21-21, Barnes posted a kill and a solo block, helping the Panthers gain a 24-21 lead. Back-to-back kills by Goodwin and Vess narrowed the gap to 24-23. After a High Point timeout, Barnes ended the set with a kill.
High Point outhit Liberty, .225-.091, in set one, as the Panthers posted five blocks, compared to three for the Lady Flames. Vess led all players with six kills.
The Panthers broke open the second set, boosting their lead from 11-8 to 20-12 with a 9-4 run. Vorster then assisted on two blocks during a three-point spurt by Liberty, drawing a High Point timeout at 20-15. The white-clad Panthers closed out the set, winning 25-16.
During set two, High Point hit .229, compared to -.053 for the Lady Flames.
Liberty led by as many as three points in the third session, going on a 9-2 run to turn a 12-8 deficit into a 17-14 lead. After High Point came back to tie it, Gragg sent down two straight kills to make it 19-17, Liberty. The Panthers scored three in a row to go ahead, 20-19. The Lady Flames took their last lead at 22-21 on a Tylman error. Tylman then knotted things at 22-all with a kill, before High Point pushed the next three points together to win, 25-22.
High Point hit .214 in set three, compared to .171 for the Lady Flames. Liberty posted four blocks, with Gragg factoring in on three rejections. High Point's Doering and Barnes, along with Liberty's Goodwin, had five kills apiece.