Grand Canyon Upset Bid At Hawai'i Falls Short For Second Straight Night

Grand Canyon rallied to tie the match with No. 13 Hawai’i, 1-1, but were unable to pick up the next two sets in a 3-1 loss to the Rainbow Warriors at Stan Sheriff Center in front of 2,733 Saturday.

GCU (5-5) lost by set scores of 25-21, 27-29, 25-16, 25-21.

“We played the first two sets better than we did last night,” said GCU coach Jeremy Price, whose team nearly pulled the upset in a 3-2 decision to Hawai’i on Friday. “We were in the exact same situation, but give credit to Hawai’i, they made adjustments to get us away from our game.”

After losing the initial set, GCU trailed 24-21 in the second before knotted up the contest at one set apiece.

In the second, Christopher Lockwood was part of three straight blocks, two with Ben Ponnet and another with Keith Smith to tie the match, 24-24. Down the stretch,  Ponnet added a pair of kills and a set-clinching service ace.

Ponnet, for the second straight night was the most dominant  ’Lope. One night after getting a career-high 23 kills with a .400 attack percentage, he had 21 kills and a .357 average.

“Once again, (Ponnet) was outstanding,” said Price. “To have that kind of weekend against this team and this environment ... that’s big.”

In his first start as a middle hitter, senior Taylor Galliano was second to Ponnet in kills with 10. He also had a solo block and three block assists. Off the bench, sophomore outside hitter Robbie Brannick had a pair of kills and was part of three blocks.

Lockwood and Jordon Tarantino each had seven kills. Smith had 46 assists, nine digs and had a solo block and two more block assists. Libero Trent Bruns had 13 digs.

“We’ve had a tough road to start the season,” said Price, whose team’s 5-5 start is the best after 10 matches in the school’s four-year history. “At 5-5, I still think we feel we left a couple out there.

“We played one-half of the matches against MPSF teams and four of the five on the road and we went on the road to play Cal Baptist. We’ve been tested and we look forward to playing the next six at home after the bye week.”

After taking next weekend off, GCU hosts King College and Johnson and Wales Feb. 10-11. The matches have been moved to GCU Arena and will start at 1 p.m. each day. GCU plays King at 1 p.m. on Feb. 10 and 7 p.m. on Feb. 11 and Johnson and Wales at 7 p.m. on Feb. 10 and 1 p.m. on Feb. 11.

The Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association season begins Feb. 18-19 against Quincy, also moved to GCU Arena. The Saturday match begins at 6 p.m. Sunday’s contest is at 4 p.m.

“We want to take advantage of the bye week and work on building some momentum for our upcoming matches in the arena,” said Price.

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