GCU Defeats Lindenwood for Program-Best 15th Win

The Grand Canyon University men’s volleyball team defeated visiting Lindenwood in three sets tonight at Antelope Gym in Phoenix, Ariz. GCU is now 15-11 overall and improved to 11-3 at home this season. Lindenwood is now 16-12 overall as the Antelopes picked up their first win against the Lions after entering tonight with a 0-2 record in the all-time series.

The win tonight also set a new mark for victories in a season for the men’s volleyball program at 15, surpassing their 14 wins in 2010. A victory tomorrow night would guarantee GCU a .500 season.

“It feels pretty good to set the school record for wins,” said head coach Jeremy Price. “We are only a fourth-year program and we are hoping in the future that 15 wins becomes just another benchmark. But it does feel good because we know where this program has been and we know where it is going. It is a very positive track that we are on.”

The Antelopes won by set scores of 25-22, 25-22 and 25-15. GCU had a .455 attack average after posting 48 kills with only eight errors in the match. The ‘Lopes also had 33 digs compared to the Lions’ 26 and out-blocked their opponent by four.

“We minimized our errors tonight, which is what we did not do last weekend against Loyola,” Price added. “We made really good swings and that makes a big difference. We didn’t try to get greedy. We were smart with the ball and our passing was good enough that our setter was able to run what we wanted to.”

GCU was led by Jordon Tarantino with 20 kills, a new school record for most kills in a three-set match. Ben Ponnet previously held the record with 19 kills against Quincy earlier this season. Tarantino had a .613 attack percentage after committing just one error on 31 total attacks. Ponnet finished with 13 kills on a .400 attack percentage.

Setter Keith Smith had 44 assists and libero Jared Morrison led the way with nine digs.

“This was one of the best offensive night’s that we have had this year and Jordon and Ben really keyed that effort for us,” said Price. “Especially Jordon, who hit over .600 with 20 kills tonight which is really unheard of from the right side. I thought he made really smart swings. I give a lot of credit to Keith because the offense was really balanced. He did a good job of getting our hitters in a position to succeed and they made really good swings. I’m really proud of our offensive effort tonight.”

GCU got off to a hot start in the first set and never looked back after taking an early 5-4 lead. The ‘Lopes posted a .333 attack average and had 15 kills compared to Lindenwood’s 12 kills. GCU was led by Tarantino with 7 kills. Ponnet added 3 kills and Ryan Olson had 2 kills.

The two teams traded points for most of the second set as there were 17 tie scores and eight lead changes until Tarantino put away the set with his 15th kill. As a team, GCU had a .516 attack average with 19 kills and just three errors. Lindenwood posted their best attack average with .333 in the second set.

The ‘Lopes were in control in the third set as they outscored Lindenwood 20-10 after the two squads were locked in a 5-5 tie. Ponnet and Tarantino each had five kills. The ‘Lopes hit .542 in the final set with 14 kills and just one error.

“It helps a lot to be able to control the tempo in these games,” said Price. “Our serve-receive was great tonight and we sided out in really good numbers. I think we are going to see a much better effort out of their team tomorrow night. Earlier this week, they went to Cal Baptist, which is a tough place to play, and lost in four sets the first night but came back to win in three the second night. I know they will come out ready to play tomorrow and we better be ready to do so in return.”

The ‘Lopes will finish their two-match set with Lindenwood tomorrow at 6 p.m. with Senior Night festivities. Fans unable to attend tomorrow’s match can follow the action with live stats. A link to the live coverage will be available at www.GCULopes.com.

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