Hawai’i quickly put to rest any hopes of North Greenville pulling another upset in the NCAA Tournament.
The Rainbow Warriors finished with a .429 attack percentage as they swept Crusaders 25-15, 25-17, 25-16 in the NCAA Tournament opening round on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
North Greenville advanced this match-up with the defending NCAA champions after sweeping Princeton to kick off the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. This was the first time a ConfCarolinas school had won a NCAA Tournament match since the Division II conference started receiving an automatic bid in 2014.
The Rainbow Warriors had two players with double-digit kills and at least a .500 attack percentage against the Crusaders.
Outside attacker Spyros Chakas finished with a team-high 12 kills and hit .588. In addition, opposite Dimitrios Mouchlias contributed 10 kills on a .500 attack percentage.
Setter Jakob Thelle led all players with four aces and with the final ace setting the Rainbow Warriors’ single-season record.
North Greenville in the loss was held to a season-low .062 attack percentage.
Opposite Gregory Torres had a team-high 12 kills to extend the freshman’s streak of four consecutive postseason matches with double-digit kills.Torres, though, was the only Crusader to have five or more kills.
Middle attacker Michael de la Cruz was limited to four kills and a negative-.077 attack percentage against the Rainbow Warriors. de la Cruz, a finalist for the Division II National Player of the Year, had 10 kills and hit more than .500 in the win against Princeton.
North Greenville trailed 10-9 in the third game before Hawai’i went on a 5-1 run to take a lead it would not relinquish as it completed the sweep.
de la Cruz opened the second game with a kill and an ace to give North Greenville the early lead. The Rainbow Warriors quickly rebounded and led by as many as 10 points and hit .421 to take a two-game lead.
Mouchilas had a team-high five kills and Chakas added four kills in the opening-game win. In addition, Thelle had three aces with the first being part of a 3-0 run to open the match.
Hawai’i with this win will advance to play the No. 2 seed Ball State in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday.
Ball State swept a two-match non-conference series against Hawai’i early in the regular season. The Rainbow Warriors were without multiple starters for that season because of injuries, including Thelle.