Grand Canyon Defeats Ball State

Grand Canyon picked up a 3-0 sweep of Ball State to improve to 3-0 in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association at Antelope Gymnasium Friday.

The Antelopes (12-8, 3-0) won by set scores of 25-19, 28-26, 25-23 and are in a first-place tie in the MIVA with No. 7 Lewis (14-3, 4-1).

GCU and Ball State meet at Antelope Gymnasium Saturday at 6 p.m. Fans unable to attend can follow live stats and live video at www.GCULopes.com.

It was Grand Canyon’s first-ever win over Ball State. The ‘Lopes came in 0-6 all-time against the Cardinals. Ball State is only the second Division I program the Antelopes have defeated and first D-I team from the MIVA. GCU is 3-0 all-time against non-conference D-I  foe NJIT.

“I didn’t think we were the crispest team tonight, but we handle the end-game situation well,” said GCU head coach Jeremy Price. “In games two and three, we scrapped and clawed. We were tough tonight.”

Grand Canyon hit just .086 in the second set and .147 in the third and only .170 for the match.

“We were out-blocked, out-dug and out-hit, but we were pretty good at the service line,” said Price, whose team had five service aces and only seven errors.

The Antelopes hit .320 in the first set and sophomore outside hitter Ben Ponnet had six of his team-high nine kills. The ‘Lopes took the lead, 8-7, on a kill from setter Keith Smith and never trailed again. Ball State tied it at 8-8, but GCU scored nine of the next 12 points.

GCU battled back in the second set, rallying from an early four-point deficit. Back-to-back kills from senior Taylor Griffin tied the match, 18-18. Sophomore Robbie Brannick had a pair of digs to keep the points alive. He finished with a match-best 10 digs.

Ball State fended off three set points before a pair of Cardinal attack errors gave GCU a 2-0 lead.

In the third, GCU trailed by six as late as 17-11, but “scrapped and clawed” until an ace serving specialist Jake Wekell cut it to 20-19. A kill from senior Taylor Galliano tied it and another Galliano kill gave GCU a 23-22 lead. A pair of service errors gave GCU match-point and sophomore middle hitter Christopher Lockwood finished it off with his fourth kill of the match.

“Ball State is a tough, talented team and have had a tough travel week,” said Price. “They’re going to a lot better (Saturday). If we play tomorrow like we did tonight it’ll be a different result. We’ll have to play crisper.”

Galliano finished with seven kills. Griffin had six. Smith had a match-best 26 assists. Ponnet had two of GCU’s five service aces. Brannick and Galliano each had one. Lockwood had four block assists.

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