Hawai’i overpowers North Greenville to advance to NCAA Tournament semifinals

Photo courtesy of UCLA athletics

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.