North Greenville signs accomplished beach volleyball player to play libero

One of the top high school beach volleyball players on the East Coast will join North Greenville.

The ConfCarolinas school announced Tuesday that libero Christian Phung has signed a national letter of intent to play for the Crusaders beginning in 2019.

Phung, a 6-foot libero from Aldie, Virginia, won the gold medal at the 2017 USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Eastern Zonal Championship. He also has been a part of the USA Volleyball High Performance beach and indoor programs since 2012.

Along with his bench experience, Phung helped his indoor club volleyball team advance six times to the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships.

North Greenville coach Fred Battenfield said in a statement he became interested in signing the libero after Phung’s club coach contacted him earlier this year.

“Within three minutes of seeing his video, I told myself ‘I’ve got to get this guy,’” Battenfield said. “Just from watching him play for a short period of time, it was readily apparent to me that Christian is a very special talent playing a position I’ve gained a lot of respect for. He is lightning quick, fearless on defense, and has very good touch passing and setting. However, during his tryout, his father mentioned to me, ‘yes, he can swing too.’ Indeed, he can. He comes from an amazing family with, which I developed an instant rapport, and I really believe he’ll be digging a lot of balls at North Greenville University in the very near future.”

The Crusaders in the program’s third year advanced to the ConfCarolinas Tournament quarterfinals last season.

North Greenville will open its 2018 against the defending NCAA champions Ohio State on Jan. 6. It also will play Grand Canyon and Lindenwood as part of the Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge presented by MotorMVB on Jan. 12-13 in Nashville, Tennessee.