Grand Canyon's five-match win streak came to an end with a 3-1
loss against defending NAIA champion California Baptist at Van Dyne
Gym in Riverside, Calif. Friday.
GCU (5-3) lost by set scores of 25-21, 20-25, 28-26, 25-19. It was Cal Baptist's first win in four matches, but its three losses came against nationally-ranked opponents, No. 2 UC-Irvine, No. 5 USC an No. 13 UC Santa Barbara.
"I thought we played really well. We just didn't play as well in the fourth as we did the first three," said GCU coach Jeremy Price. "We're disappointed with the result, but we saw a lot of positives in our play.
"Ben (Ponnet) was great."
In the loss, sophomore outside hitter Ben Ponnet had 16 kills, hit .316 and had seven digs and three block assists. Junior outside hitter Jordon Tarantino had 11 kills and a service ace. Grand Canyon had 10 blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Christopher Lockwood had one solo and four assists. Freshman middle blocker Ryan Mather had four block assists.
Setter Keith Smith had 40 assists, seven digs and three block assists. Libero Trent Bruns had a team-high eight digs.
An 8-2 run in the middle of the second set propeled GCU to even set scores at 1-1. Tied 8-8, the 'Lopes scored three straight points. Tarantino had a kill and a service ace and Taylor Griffin added a kill. At 12-10, GCU scored four straight. Mather had a kill and a service ace. A block from Smith and Lockwood followed a Lancer attack error to make it 16-10.
Grand Canyon survived three set points in the third with kills from Tarantino, Ponnet and Smith. GCU had leads at 22-20 and 23-21. A Griffin kill put the 'Lopes just two points away from a 2-1 set lead, but the Lancers answered with seven of the sets final 10 points.
An 8-2 Lancer run early in the fourth game the home team a 15-8, which was too much for the 'Lopes to overcome.
GCU had more total blocks, 10-5, but Price gave credit to the Lancer blockers who got a piece of enought attacks to give their team a 49-37 advantage in digs. GCU hit .321 and .381, respectively, in the first two sets. Price also praised the passing of Ponnet, Bruns and Griffin.
After Cal Baptist hit .536 in the first, it hit -.038 in the second. For the match, CBU hit .244 and GCU was .223.
"We're going to learn a lot when we watch the film," added Price. "Hopefully we can take what we learn and get better going into our trip to Hawaii."
GCU next plays at the University of Hawai'i for matches Jan. 27-28. Hawai'i is ranked No. 12 in the nation.