January 21, 2011

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.

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