Grand Canyon Breaks Losing Streak, Splits Two Match Series

The Grand Canyon University men’s volleyball team split the two match series, falling to Park University but beating Johnson & Wales University in a 3-2 decision.

The ‘Lopes lost to Park University earlier today in a 1-3 decision at Johnson & Wales University in Denver. Grand Canyon won the first set, 25-21, with an impressive .304 team hitting percentage. Junior middle blocker Taylor Galliano (Norco, CA , Foothill , Irvine Valley College) had 3 kills on 3 attempts, putting him at a perfect 1.000 for the set. Freshman Keith Smith (Whittier, CA, California High School) had 5 blocks (1 solo and 4 block assists) and Jordon Tarantino (Valley Center, CA , Valley Center , Palomar Community College) had 3 kills on 4 attempts.

The ‘Lopes dropped the next three sets (24-26, 16-25, 22-25) to lose the match. Tarantino and Galliano led the team in kills with 8 apiece. Tarantino also ended with 1 service ace and 5 block assists. Sophomore libero Trent Bruns (Mission Viejo, CA , Mission Viejo) recorded 17 of the 44 total digs against the Pirates.

GCU came out ready to play in the second match, winning the first set 25-17. The team hit .458, a season best with 13 total kills and only 2 errors. Freshman Ben Hunt (Huntington Beach, CA , Servite) had 5 kills on 6 attempts with no errors.

Johnson & Wales came back in the second set to beat the ‘Lopes 16-25 and again in the third 26-28. With the home court advantage and ahead 2-1, the Wildcats were looking to end the match. GCU came out strong in the fourth, however, and won 25-19. Again the team hit .458 compared to Johnson & Wales’ .167.

Grand Canyon was behind in the fifth set before they tied the score at 7-7. The Wildcats battled and again, the score tied at 12-12 before the ‘Lopes pulled ahead to win the set and the match 15-13.

GCU had four players with double-digit kills, Ben Ponnet (Merchtem, Belgium, OLVC) with 14, Tarantino with 12, Hunt with 11 and Galliano with 10. Ponnet also finished with 2 service aces and 8 digs, Tarantino with 8 digs, and Hunt with 2 service aces. Galliano finished the night with a .600 hitting percentage, having just 1 error on 15 attempts and 5 block assists.

Freshman setter Smith ended with his first double-double, he had 48 assists and 11 digs for the match. “Keith did a nice job at finding the hot hitters,” said Coach Price. “We showed some real balance.”

Grand Canyon heads to Colorado Springs, Colo. tomorrow to face Johnson & Wales at the U.S. Olympic Training Center at 7:00 pm.