GCU Sets New Mark for Consecutive Wins
Three players had nine kills and another had eight to lead Grand
Canyon's men's volleyball team to a 3-0 victory at Hope
International in Fullerton, Calif. Thursday.
The win set a new school mark for consecutive wins at five. GCU won by set scores of 25-20, 25-19, 27-25.
"With five being our longest streak, it shows the youth of our program. We're only three years and some change in," said GCU head coach Jeremy Price. "To do it for the first time is pretty exciting for this team and the best part is I feel they've got better every week."
Middle hitters Christopher Lockwood and Ryan Mather and outside hitter Jordon Tarantino all had nine kills and outside hitter Ben Ponnet added eight in the win.
GCU had another strong blocking performance with 12. Mather, who leads the MIVA in blocks and was named the league's defensive player of the week, had a team-high seven block assists. Ponnet had six block assists.
Lockwood was errorless on attacks, going 9-of-13 for a .692 hitting percentage. Mather hit .429 with three errors in 14 attempts.
With the score 18-16 in the first set, Lockwood led the way down the stretch with four kills and a block assist.
GCU pulled away late in the second set, too, going on a 5-0 run while holding a slim 19-18 lead. It started with a block from Mather and Ponnet. Lockwood followed with a kill and after an HIU attack error; Ponnet scored another kill and then combined with Lockwood and setter Keith Smith for a block.
The third set saw the 'Lopes battle from behind, trailing by as much as six, 11-5. Down 12-7, GCU went on another run, scoring seven straight points. It started with a Hope attack error. Taylor Galliano, Lockwood and Tarantino followed with kills to cut it to 12-11 and consecutive service aces from Ponnet gave GCU the lead. A block from Lockwood and Tarantino finished off the run.
Galliano returned to the lineup after missing the last two due to injury. After missing on his first three attacks, he had four kills on his final 13 attempts for a .308 percentage.
The Royals fought off a pair of match points before a service error and Tarantino kill gave the 'Lopes their fifth straight win.
"I don't if last year's team would have done that," added Price, praising the team's maturity over the year. "I think it would have gone into the fourth set. We called a timeout and found something to turn it back on. I thought we really showed a lot of character."
Libero Trent Bruns had 10 digs and Smith had 32 assists. The Antelopes hit .258 as a team and held the Royals to a .181 average.
Price also lauded the serve reception of freshman Ryan Olson. "It doesn't show up in the stat sheet, but he played very well in the back row," said the coach,
GCU (5-2) takes on defending NAIA champion California Baptist in Riverside, Calif. Friday at 8 p.m. Cal Baptist will provide live stats and live video -- for a fee -- for the match. Links to the live action are available on GCULopes.com.