So much for any freshman jitters in a big moment.
Freshman opposite Gregory Torres finished with both a match-high 25 kills on a .435 attack percentage and four aces as North Greenville defeated Mount Olive 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 21-25, 15-7 in the ConfCarolinas Tournament finals on Saturday in Mount Olive, North Carolina.
Torres capped off the Tournament Most Valuable Player performance with a match-winning ace to secure the Crusaders’ berth to the NCAA Tournament as the ConfCarolinas champions. This is the first time in its seven-year program history that North Greenville has won the ConfCarolinas Tournament championship.
North Greenville in the decisive fifth game had a match-best .643 attack percentage and out-hit Mount Olive for the match .304 to .281.
Along with Torres, three Crusaders had at least 15 kills. Outside attacker Diego Rosich had 16 kills, while freshman middle attacker Michael de la Cruz contributed 15 kills.
Both Rosich and Torres defensively also had double-digit digs in the team’s third win this season against Mount Olive.
Outside attacker Tobi Azeez, the 2021 ConfCarolinas Offensive Player of the Year, led Mount Olive with 18 kills on a .302 attack percentage. In addition, Pedro Gonzalez had 13 kills and zero errors on a .650 attack percentage against North Greenville.
North Greenville opened the fifth game on a 4-1 run with de la Cruz and Torres serving. Mount Olive cut the deficit to 7-5 before North Greenville went on a 6-1 run that included two kills and a block from de la Cruz.
Azeez finished with a game-high six kills in Mount Olive’s fourth game win to force a decisive fifth game. The Trojans also did not commit an attack error in the fourth game and had a team-best .581 attack percentage.
The Crusaders limited the Trojans to a .068 attack percentage in their nine-point win in game three. Torres finished with a game-high six kills, including having four of those kills as part of a 7-2 run to end the game.
North Greenville rallied from a three-point deficit to tie the second game at 20-20. Mount Olive, though, rebounded and had two kills as part of a 3-1 run to close out the game and even the match.
Torres had back-to-back aces as part of a 4-0 run midway through the first game to help Crusaders rally from a deficit. de la Cruz and Torres each also had four kills and hit more than .400 in the opening game win.
This is the second consecutive year Mount Olive has lost in the ConfCarolinas Tournament finals. The Trojans have never won a conference tournament title since the ConfCarolinas earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament since 2014.
North Greenville entered the postseason after winning the program’s first conference regular season title and earned the No. 1 seed to the ConfCarolinas Tournament.
North Greenville is the sixth ConfCarolinas program to advance to the NCAA Tournament. A ConfCarolinas has never advanced beyond the opening round.