On Friday, Jan. 28 GCU swept Lees-McRae 3-0 but today the Bobcats came out ready to battle. In the first set, the ‘Lopes out-hit the other team with a .222 hitting percentage and 12 kills with just 4 errors but Lees-McRae picked up the defense out-digging and out-serving GCU. There were a total of five lead changes and 11 tie scores before Lees-McRae was able to pull ahead and win the set 25-23. Jordon Tarantino (Valley Center, CA , Valley Center , Palomar Community College) held the middle with 4 kills and no errors. He also had the lone service ace for the set. Trent Bruns (Mission Viejo, CA , Mission Viejo) led the defense with 6 digs.
The Antelopes dominated the second set, beating the Bobcats 25-13 to tie the match at 1-1. GCU went on a 10 point run to start the match at 10-0 with Ben Ponnet (Merchtem, Belgium, OLVC) serving nine consecutive serves with 2 aces and no errors before losing a point. Middles Taylor Galliano (Norco, CA , Foothill , Irvine Valley College) and Tarantino had a combined 5 kills with no errors, 3 and 2 respectively. Outside hitter Taylor Griffin (Tucson, AZ , Ironwood Ridge) had 4 block assists to lead the team in the second set.
Again Grand Canyon held strong in the third set, winning 25-17. This set was more of a challenge with the ‘Lopes starting from behind but quickly gaining the lead. The Bobcats tied the score three times but were unable to pull ahead. Tarantino had 3 kills and 4 block assists. Ponnet stepped up the defense, contributing 4 digs and Bruns had 3 for the set.
The ‘Lopes came out behind in the fourth set but fought their way back to win the set 25-22 and the match 3-1. Both teams came out strong, battling back and forth with four lead changes and 11 tie scores. GCU fell behind late in the set and it looked as though they were going to a fifth. However, the ‘Lopes brought it within one, bringing the score to 20-21. Coach Price subbed in Jake Wekell (Tempe, AZ, Marcos de Niza) to serve for the ‘Lopes . Wekell served five straight points with kills by Griffin, Galliano and Ponnet. A missed serve gave McRae the ball with the score at 24-22 in GCU’s favor. Galliano put the ball away with a set from freshman Keith Smith (Whittier, CA, California High School) to end the match.
Tarantino was the player of the game with 10 kills and no errors, his second perfect game of the weekend. He hit .476 for the match and had 9 total blocks. Again Galliano controlled the middle, hitting .556 with 11 kills and just 1 error. Sophomore libero Bruns recorded 14 digs to lead the defense. Smith proved to be a leader in today’s contest, carding 3 kills, 2 aces, 40 assists, 5 digs, and 3 total blocks.
Grand Canyon plays again today at 4:00 pm against the Carthage
Red Men in Antelope Gymnasium.