Tigerville, SC – The Crusaders were ready as the Flying Fleet of Erskine College came to Tigerville for their second meeting of the season. In their first meeting, the Flying Fleet edged out the Crusaders in five sets in a match that featured 20+ service and hitting errors for North Greenville. Despite the rocky past, the Crusaders were ready to play as four Crusaders [Brandon Baker (Sophomore), Aaron Campbell (Senior), Jackson Gilbert (Sophomore), and Cade McGee (Freshman)] posted double-digit kills and the team posted 41 digs collectively.
The first set was dominant for the Crusaders as the team defeated the Flying Fleet 25 – 13. After trading 12 points back-and-forth the Crusaders strung two points together to take the first true lead of the game. Campbell finished one of his 12 kills of the evening and sparked the Crusader offense. The Flying Fleet followed up the kill with a couple of hitting errors, while Campbell and McGee both continued the onslaught finishing flawless sets from Sergio Carrillo (Freshman). It was not until a hitting error that Erskine got a break, but not before the Crusaders took a decisive five-point lead. At the end of the set, senior Grayson Lawrence entered the game for Baker and gave the Crusaders back-to-back service aces to finish the dominant performance for the Crusaders.
Unfortunately, the second set did not feature the same dominance from the Crusaders as the Flying Fleet struck back stealing a set 22 – 25. The Crusaders were plagued with service and hitting errors like their last game with the Fleet and looked for a repeat of the first set heading into the third set. In the third set the experience of the Crusaders shined as the team willed their way to victory. Neither the Crusaders of the Flying Fleet would take more than a one-point lead until the Crusaders scored consecutive points to defeat Erskine 26 – 24. A kill by Gilbert gave North Greenville the point advantage, then a decisive block by the sensational freshman Carrillo pumped life into Hayes gymnasium heading into the fourth.
With their backs up against the wall the Flying Fleet jumped out to a 7 – 4 lead, but the Crusaders rallied once more on the backs of their leaders as Campbell and Gilbert combine for nine kills in the last set. The team as a whole finished the ball extremely well posting a .323 kill percentage in the final set. After rallying the Crusaders played lights out taking the lead shortly after at 15 – 14. Although Erskine would tie the game a couple times down the stretch the Crusaders never relinquished the lead ultimately taking the set 25 – 22 for the victory.
Individually, Cade McGee played an efficient game finishing with 13 kills off a .478 hitting percentage. Aaron Campbell and Jackson Gilbert combine for 23 kills and 27.5 points leading the Crusaders in the critical moments. Brandon Baker also had 11 kills on the evening followed up by 6 kills from Ben Hamsho (Junior). Finally, Sergio Carrillo was sensational scoring 2 kills to go along with 48 assists.
The Crusaders now have two road games at Coker College and Bluefield College to wrap up the rest of the week. If the team can defeat both teams, they will tie the school record for number of wins in a week and set the school record for most wins in a singular week. The Crusaders will return home next Monday, March 4th to kick off spring break against Coker College. That match is set to start at 3 pm.