HIGH POINT, N.C. - Charleston Southern battled back-and-forth with High Point inside the Willis Center on Friday night, rallying to win a thrilling fourth-set 32-30 over the host Panthers, but the Buccaneers were unable to ride the momentum and emotion in falling in a five-set heartbreaker to HPU, 25-21, 18-25, 25-15, 30-32, 15-10.
Katrina Houston recorded her third double-double of the season in the match, leading the Buccaneers with 15 kills and added 14 digs on the defensive end to pace CSU in the match as Charleston Southern held leads in four of the five sets, but were unable to hold off the advancing Panthers in the loss.
Charleston Southern falls to 6-23, 0-13 in Big South play on the season in the loss, while High Point improves to 14-14, 8-5 in conference action with the win.
Siraya Windsor matched Houston's production with 15 kills in the match, while middle blockers Meredith Parrott and Erin LaVenice both had 10 kills apiece to lead a CSU offense that hit .168 from the floor as a team. Cassidy Greer set up the CSU offense with 45 set assists, while Maggie Murphy had four service aces.
Defensively, Murphy led the Buccaneers' backline with 23 digs in the match, while Kayla Klinger had 18 overall. LaVenice entered the match third in the Big South in blocks per set, and lived up to the billing in finishing the match with six total blocks at the net to lead all players.
Chelsea Davis, the Big South's leading hitter on the season, led all players with 20 kills in the match and was one of six High Point players in double-digits in digs with 17 to complete the double-double. Megan Kennedy (19 kills-12 digs), Kristin Heldt (17 kills-10digs) and Maddie Simpson (72 assists-18 digs) also completed double-doubles in the match in the win. Annemarie Chin led all players with 34 digs overall, while Wavie Chin was also in double-digits with 10 as High Point recorded 106 total digs in the match as a team.
After squandering a 9-5 lead in the first set, Charleston Southern used a 5-0 run to take a 14-9 advantage. Back-to-back kills by LaVenice and Windsor sparked the run as the Bucs built their largest lead of the set, but the Panthers rallied back several times, cutting the deficit down to one at 17-16 following a Heldt kill. With CSU again threatening late in the set, going up 21-18 on a kill by Houston, the Panthers responded with a 7-0 run on Heldt's serve with Kennedy putting in a pair of kills to pace High Point to the 25-21 opening set win.
Charleston Southern again took the lead in the second set, going up six points at 20-14 following back-to-back kills by Houston and Parrott. Another High Point rally nearly mimicked the first set stretch as the Panthers put in four of the next five points to cut the deficit to 21-18 as Davis, Savannah Angel and Heldt all drove in kills. However, CSU recovered to take the final four points on Windsor's serve as Parrott and Houston connected on a huge block to stall the Panthers run as the Bucs evened the match with the 25-18 set win.
The third set saw the Buccaneers tie the frame up three times, but never lead as the Panthers went up by as many as seven points before closing out the 25-15 set win. CSU was led by three kills by Windsor in the frame, while the Panthers hit .400 from the floor in building the 2-1 leaed.
The thrilling fourth set saw Charleston Southern and High Point battle through 14 ties and five lead changes, with most of those coming late in the frame before CSU took the 32-30 set win.
Charleston Southern sprinted out to the 8-4 lead, using an 8-2 run on Murphy's serve as Windsor drove in three early kills during the stretch to put the Bucs ahead early. High Point responded with a 12-3 run of their own, building their largest lead of the set at 16-11 behind a trio of Kennedy kills. CSU would respond with another run of their own, cutting the deficit down to one point at 20-19 following a HPU error before the Bucs tied the match up at 21-21.
The tie set up a thrilling 18 point span with neither team able to take more than a one point advantage with both teams seeing the opportunity to win the match. CSU held the first chance, going up 25-24 on a kill by Windsor, but the Panthers answered with a Kennedy kill. The Buccaneers held set point six times in the frame as LaVenice drove in the go-ahead kill to put CSU ahead 31-30, before LaVenice and Greer closed out the set and sent the match into the fifth frame, combining on the block to take the 32-30 set win.
CSU held the 8-6 lead at the crossover in the fifth frame behind three early kills by Houston, but High Point rallied following a timeout, using Chelsea Blanford's serve to go on a 9-2 run to end the match on three consecutive kills by Davis to close out the five set win.
Charleston Southern closes out the 2013 season on the road tomorrow afternoon, taking on Campbell in Buies Creek, N.C. First serve between the Bucs and Camels is set for 2 p.m.