Coach Fred Battenfield is anything but reluctant to call Jackson Gilbert one of the most underrated outside attackers in the nation.
The senior during North Greenville’s biggest win in program history showed exactly why his coach feels that way.
Gilbert finished with a match-high 18 kills on a .341 attack percentage as North Greenville rallied from a two-game deficit to upset No. 10/9 Grand Canyon 12-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-18, 15-13 on Friday in Phoenix, Arizona.
This is the first time in program history that the Crusaders (9-8, 4-4 ConfCarolinas) have defeated a nationally ranked team. In addition, it was the first victory against a MPSF school for the ConfCarolinas program in its sixth season.
In the decisive fifth game, North Greenville overcame an early three-point deficit with a 5-0 run that featured a kill and solo block from Gilbert. The outside attacker also had an ace and led the Crusaders in the game with three kills, including having the match-winning kill.
Gilbert, who returned to court two weeks ago after being sidelined for six matches because of an injury, contributed defensively with nine digs and four blocks against the Antelopes (12-6, 4-2 MPSF).
North Greenville in the non-conference victory out-hit Grand Canyon .220 to .200 and had two players with double-digit kills and more than a .300 attack percentage. Along with Gilbert, middle attacker Ben Hamsho ended with 14 kills and hit .360.
Outside attacker Christian Janke led the Antelopes with 14 kills but was limited to less than a .100 attack percentage. Outside attacker Camden Gianni coming off the bench to play in the third and fifth games had 11 kills while hitting .556.
North Greenville out-blocked Grand Canyon 13 to 9, including middle attacker Brandon Baker having a match-high six blocks. Setter Jake Boldog along with guiding the Crusaders offense had five blocks versus the Antelopes.
North Greenville entered this evening match after losing in three games to No. 7/8 UC Irvine on Friday morning at Grand Canyon.
The team will conclude its Arizona road trip as it plays an NAIA school Ottawa (Arizona) on Saturday.
The Crusaders, which are tied for fifth place in the ConfCarolinas, will begin the second half of its conference season next weekend.