Tigerville, SC – “Coach Battenfield, where will you open your 2018 North Greenville University men’s volleyball schedule?”
Battenfield’s response … “Ohio State; Yes, THAT Ohio State.”
The NGU men will begin their fourth season as a NCAA Division I program on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 playing at two-time defending NCAA National Champion Ohio State at 7 p.m. “We are highly honored to be able to open the season playing at Ohio State,” Battenfield said. “Coach Pete Hansen is one of the classiest individuals in men’s volleyball, and he gave us the opportunity to come to Columbus and play against his incredible team. This will mark the second time in our four years we’ve opened against the #1 team in the country, so if we are going to contend for a Conference Carolinas championship, we have got to play the best teams to get a baseline of where we are as a program and how we can improve.”
“I’ve got two tremendous players from the Columbus area in Matthew McManaway (SR MB 2nd Team All-CC) and transfer Jackson Gilbert (SO OH Coker College), so we will have a pretty good contingent of NGU fans in Columbus the night we play OSU,” Battenfield added.
“I am very thrilled to get back in the gym with this year’s group,” Battenfield added. “We will put our first senior class on the floor this year and they have been the foundation of everything I’ve been trying to build. It used to be very difficult to recruit top-notch players to NGU, but not anymore. Most players know we are a legitimate contender for a CC crown, and that is a tribute to the hard work of the current players. However, now I am getting many looks from great players around the country. We have a good nucleus of veterans this season, and the newcomers are probably the best group of recruits I’ve ever brought in.”
After the Ohio State match, NGU will have its home opener against first year program Queens (NC) on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Then, the Crusaders will travel to the “Grow the Game Tournament in Nashville, TN on Jan. 12-13. NGU will play highly regarded Grand Canyon University at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, and Lindenwood (MO) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Other highlights of the 2018 schedule include a road trip to the University of Charleston (WVA), and home and away matches against Queens and Lincoln Memorial, and home non-conference matches against Alderson Broaddus (WVA) and Coker College.
The Conference Carolinas schedule will include nine teams this year, and the competitive level increases each season. “Our goal is be right there in every conference match we play,” fourth year Head Coach Battenfield noted. “Barton College is clearly going to be the pre-season favorite, but King University and Mt. Olive should be in the mix for the title as well. Limestone always seems to be in the top four or five, and everyone has gotten better, so the league will remain as tough as ever.”
NGU returns three seniors for the 2018 season, led by McManaway, a two-time All-Conference Carolinas middle hitter. “Matt has always been the concrete that has held our team together the last three years,” Battenfield said. “He’s had over 200 kills every season and has been in the top five in blocks in CC all three years, and he knows this is his final go ‘round. We’ll begin our quest to get past the quarter-finals this year with him, but we have a solid group of upperclassmen who know the drill and are ready to help us advance.” Dustin King (SR L) and Silas Jenkins (SR L) are the other two seniors who will provide experience and leadership for the large group of newcomers Battenfield has brought to Tigerville.
“Connor Rhine, who suffered a career ending knee injury at Princeton last January, has decided to graduate early and will not play in 2018,” Battenfield said. “Connor will help us out as a student coach this fall before heading into corporate America in January. He’s been an integral part of starting the program and has been a huge part of our maturation process, so I am highly indebted to him for his commitment to stay the course,” Battenfield added.
Other veterans include juniors Aaron Campbell (JR OPP), Grayson Lawrence (JR S/OH), and Kyle Brandt (JR OH), along with sophomores Ben Hamsho (MB) and Jake Boldog (S).
Seven newcomers are on the roster for the NGU men this season, and each of those are capable of taking a starting position from one of the returners. Sophomore transfer Jackson Gilbert (OH Hilliard, Ohio) is a key addition for NGU as he brings athleticism and a strong arm to the outside position. Tyler Peach (OH JR-RS Greenville, SC) has transferred in from Lees McRae and will redshirt his season.
The most exciting group of recruits to come to NGU is the class of 2021. Brandon Baker (6-6 OH, South Windsor, CT), Jarvis Benito (6-5 MB, Kea’au, HI), Matthew Hartberger (6-2 S, Rock Hill, SC), Luis Kannee (6-3 OPP, Miami, FL), and Arlind Rojba (5-9 L, Addison, IL), make up the freshman class, and all bring experience and a willingness to push the program ahead in its development.
“Once we can get through our first five matches this year, we should have a pretty good indication of what our season will look like,” Battenfield concluded. “Opening at Ohio State is one of those genius coach moves, but what a super opportunity for my players to get on the court with one of the sport’s most successful programs. I am encouraged that our newcomers will step up right away and make the veterans work harder. If the old guys don’t work hard in pre-season, they will be standing next to me, wondering, what do I need to do to get out there?”
NGU TO PLAY FOUR DATES IN FALL 2017 – HOST CLEMSON NOV. 9
The NGU men will compete in four playing dates in the fall of 2017, beginning with a scrimmage against Erskine College on Saturday, Oct. 21 in Hayes Gym in Tigerville. After that, the Crusaders will compete in a tournament at King University on Saturday, Oct. 28, travel to Charlotte to scrimmage against Belmont Abbey on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 6:00 p.m., and will host Clemson University on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7:00 p.m. in Hayes Gym.
For more information on the NGU men’s volleyball program, contact Coach Fred Battenfield at (864) 977-2076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.