Franklin Springs, GA – The best way to follow up two historic wins for a program is with another dominant conference win and that is exactly what the Crusaders had in mind as they traveled to Franklin Springs to take on the Emmanuel Lions. The 3 – 0 victory was even more sweet for the rising Crusaders as it marked Dr. Fred Battenfield’s 50th win during his tenure at North Greenville. Battenfield started the men’s volleyball program four seasons ago and has continually improved every year. His ultimate goal has been to win a conference championship, which is well within grasp this season.
Dominance is a true understatement for the performance that the Crusaders put on against Emmanuel. The Crusaders scored the first point in every set and never gave the Lions a lead in the entire match. Although the Lions tied the game numerous times the Crusaders continually pushed back keeping the hope for the Lions at bay.
In the first set, the Crusaders looked like they have already reached mid-season form as the scored 10 of the first 14 points. Jackson Gilbert (Sophomore) posted 3 kills in a row to stretch the Crusader lead within that span. Other Crusaders including Ben Hamsho (Sophomore), Aaron Campbell (Senior), Brandon Baker (Sophomore), and Cade McGee (Freshman) finished the ball exceptionally well off the sets from Sergio Carrillo (Freshman).
Both the second and third sets were more dominance by the Crusaders, but the sets were decided by less than four points each. The second set was all about Carrillo and his ability to share the ball to all of the weapons that the Crusader team hosts. Gilbert, Baker, and Campbell all completed multiple points off sets from Carrillo. No one Crusader scored more than two points in a row in the second set which kept the Lions honest with their block and gave the Crusaders large lanes to hit. The beginning of the third set was dominated by Campbell and Gilbert, the offensive leaders for the Crusaders. Then, the offensive sharing began again, and the Lions were forced to give up massive holes in their block putting their defensive specialists and liberos at a clear disadvantage.
The Crusaders are now riding a five-game win streak going into the rest of their road trip consisting of King and Belmont Abbey. The team is living a historic year for the Crusaders as they defeated Mount Olive and Barton last weekend. For the Crusaders success to continue they will need the same offensive barrage they showed against Emmanuel and great play from their liberos.
Individually, Jackson Gilbert finished with 16 points, 13 kills, and a 53% kill percentage. Right behind him, Aaron Campbell finished with 12 points, 10 kills, 1 ace, and 2 blocks. Arlind Rojba (Sophomore) posted 7 digs to lead the Crusaders on the defensive side of the ball.
The Crusaders will continue their first round of Conference Carolinas games as they take on Kind University and Belmont Abbey College on the road over the next two weeks. Then the Crusaders return home for a bout with the Saints from Limestone College on Friday, February 22nd. That match is set to begin at 7 pm.