North Greenville to open 2018 season on road vs. Ohio State

There will be no easy start to the upcoming season for North Greenville.

North Greenville announced earlier this week that it will open its 2018 season with a road match against the two-time defending NCAA champions Ohio State on Jan. 6.

This will be the first all-time meeting between the Crusaders and the Buckeyes. In addition, it will be the first North Greenville plays a projected top-10 nationally ranked team since being swept in a two-match series against Pepperdine to open its inaugural season in 2015.

The Crusaders finished last season in seventh place in the ConfCarolinas and advanced to the conference tournament quarterfinals for the third consecutive year.

Among the starters returning for North Greenville includes all-conference middle attacker and Ohio native Matthew McManaway. McManaway ended his junior season third in the conference with a 0.95 blocks per game average and had a team-high 2.86 kills per game average.

Ohio State swept BYU in the NCAA Tournament finals to win back-to-back NCAA titles and its third national championship this decade. Despite the Buckeyes losing two All-American starters from that championship team, outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen returns for his senior season after being named the 2016 AVCA National Player of the Year and the 2017 International Player of the Year.

Ohio State also is undefeated all-time against ConfCarolinas schools, including a non-conference sweep versus the ConfCarolinas champions Barton last season.

The season-opener against Ohio State will take place one week before North Greenville participates in the inaugural Grow the Game Challenge in Nashville, Tennessee. North Greenville at that non-conference event will play Grand Canyon on Jan. 12 and Lindenwood on Jan. 13.