Sunday, August 31, 2014
Tigerville, S.C.—The 2013 volleyball season didn’t go as planned for head coach Greg Mosely as the Crusaders finished a very difficult slate of games with a 7-28 record including a 5-13 mark in Conference Carolinas games. The Crusaders were one of the youngest teams in the league last season however and still played their way into the conference playoffs. 

Coach Mosely has a solid foundation returning for the 2014 season as the Crusaders return five players who played in at least 30 of 34 matches last season. The Crusaders graduated one senior from the 2013 squad, and will return one rising senior in Elizabeth James. The Crusaders were recently ranked seventh in the league pre-season poles as voted on by coaches.

James will be the centerpiece of the NGU offense this season, as she returns as the team’s leading assist getter. James quarterbacked the North Greenville offensive attack during the 2013 season, dishing out 847 assists in 130 sets. She ranked fifth in Conference Carolinas last season with a 6.41 assist per set average during the 2013 campaign and led NGU to third in the league with 1143 combined assists. James also led the Crusaders with 30 service aces last season. 

Rising sophomore Ashlyn Wilkinson offers the Crusaders a solid backup at the setter position. Wilkinson came comes into the 2014 season looking to build on a solid freshmen campaign in 2013 in which she served as James’ understudy. She played in 57 sets last season, racking up 172 assists. 

The Crusaders also have a wealth of experience returning at the outside hitter position, led by junior Yomi Adeyeye. Adeyeye comes into this season having been a full time starter in her first two seasons at North Greenville. She led the team in 2013 with 360 kills, ranking her third in the league. She also ranked in the top 10 in the league last season in kills per set with 2.83. 

Hannah Helbert and Haley Hester add more experienced depth to the North Greenville offensive attack. Helbert and Hester combined to play in over 140 sets last season, and added some much needed fire power to the NGU attack. Helbert played in just 18 games last season for the Crusaders after returning from injury and was third on the team with 151 kills. Hester also will add quality depth to the Crusader offense in 2014. Hester played in 88 sets last season pounding out 88 kills. She was second on the team with a .215 hitting percentage. Hester also helped NGU on defense, scoring 24 block assists and 2 solo blocks last season. 

Rounding out the returning hitters for the Crusaders are Courtney Adams and Taylor Dupes. Adams and Dupes combined for 131 kills last season in an offensive attack that finished with 1289 total kills. Dupes also doubled as a defender for NGU last season, ranking third on the team with 241 digs in 109 sets played and was third on the team with 18 aces. Adams also added help in other aspects of the NGU game in 2013 at the net. She accounted for eight total blocks, and 30 digs on defense. 

Returning on defense for NGU is a trio that saw significant playing time last season. Megan Steading, Sommer Cagle, and Rachel Burts return this season as a solid line of defenders for North Greenville. Junior Megan Steading, the elder of the three returners served as libero for the Crusaders last season, and will add significant experience to this year’s squad. She played in 89 total sets last season, scoring 174 digs. She also helped NGU at the service line with 13 aces. 

Sophomore Rachel Burts returns as NGU’s leading blocker heading into the 2014 season. Burts totaled 54 blocks last season from her middle blocker position and also picked up 24 digs in the process. Burts was also one of North Greenville’s biggest threats on offense as she was second on the team with 239 kills and was seventh in Conference Carolinas with a .266 hitting percentage. 

Alongside Burts is fellow sophomore Sommer Cagle. Cagle played in 72 sets last season, registering 25 digs on defense along with 11 total blocks. The 5’9 sophomore from Lexington also helped out on offense, pounding out 66 kills while also dishing out 13 service aces. 

The Crusaders are looking to improving during the 2014 campaign, and head coach Greg Mosely feels like he has the tools to do so. “Barring injury, we should be competitive in the Conference Carolinas this season,” remarked Mosely. “We have set team goals of that would be new program standards if achieved. We are bigger, stronger and should be more effective with ball control as the season progresses.”

Along with the wealth of experience returning for NGU this season is a group of freshmen that will be looked upon to help the Crusaders throughout the grind of the 2014 season. “The freshmen must learn to adapt to the speed of the college game,” says Mosely. “This takes time, so our freshmen will contribute to our overall competitiveness and should push our returning players to a new level of competitiveness.”

North Greenville opens up the 2014 season on Friday evening with the annual NGU Invitational. The Crusaders opening game is scheduled for 1pm against Columbia College in Hayes Gymnasium.