GCU Loses Road Trip Opener at Juniata

Grand Canyon dropped the opener of its three-match road trip with a 3-1 loss at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Penn., Saturday.

GCU (11-6) lost by set scores of 25-19, 25-23, 12-25, 25-17 to the Eagles, ranked No. 4 in Division III.

“Juniata is a tough place to play and they’re a good team,” said GCU coach Jeremy Price, who led Juniata two a pair of Molson D-III Championships prior to coming to GCU.

“It was pretty disappointing, but Juniata played really well.”

For the match, GCU had a season-high 28 hitting errors and hit just .107. Its only lower hitting percentage for a match was a .084 clip against Pacific in the season-opener.

Jake Wekell, who started as one of the outside hitters due to injuries to Jordon Tarantino and Robbie Brannick, had a team-high 12 kills and five service aces, the most of any GCU player in a match this season. Grand Canyon had a season-high 10 service aces.

Ben Ponnet added 11 kills. Sophomore setter Keith Smith had 34 assists, a team-best 13 digs and three block assists. Freshman middle hitter Ryan Mather had four blocks, including one solo.

Redshirt-freshman libero Jared Morrison had a career-high 12 digs. He played in place of first team all-conference libero Trent Bruns, who was unable to play due to an eye infection.

“Jared stepped up admirably,” added Price.

The loss put an end to GCU’s school-record six-match winning streak.

The second of three road matches in three days is Sunday against St. Francis (PA) in Loretto, Penn. The match time has been changed to 2 p.m. Arizona time. On Monday, at 5 p.m. Arizona time, GCU will take on George Mason in Fairfax, Virginia. Both St. Francis and George Mason are members of the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.

Fans can follow the matches with live stats and live video (for a fee) provided by the host school. Links to the live coverage are available at www.GCULopes.com.

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