The No. 15 Grand Canyon men's volleyball team has established a three-match win streak thanks to a perfect home weekend that was capped Saturday night by defeating Ottawa in straight sets. It was a night for gaining experience, as every active GCU player saw the court. Set scores were 25-17, 25-16 and 25-23.
GCU was dominant on the scoreboard but the teams split overall stats. The Lopes led in aces (6) and blocks (9) while Ottawa had the edge in kills (29), assists (28) and digs (30).
"This was a good response from our guys," GCU head coach Matt Werle
said. "After the long match last night, it was good for us to come out and get a quick win to cap off the weekend."
Lopes freshman outside hitter Christian Janke
led the offense with his most efficient night of the season. Janke landed 11 kills to go along with a massive .556 hitting percentage and added a team-leading seven digs. Senior middle blocker Alex Shmelev
led the Lopes from the service line with three aces to go along with three blocks. Setters Onur Cukur
and Tanner Petchul
split duties again, recording 12 and 11 assists, respectively.
"Christian had a great offensive night tonight," Werle said. "He was able to take what we see every day in the practice gym and translate it to the match. This was a great night for our guys to get on-court experience. Our entire bench got to see action and get quality playing time."
The match started with another impressive first-set service run for senior opposite Will Schwob
. After the Lopes trailed 14-13, Schwob was at the service line eight straight times, using an ace and kills by Janke, Jack Burton
and Shmelev to take a commanding 21-14 lead. From there, the Spirit would only earn two more points before Caleb Blazer
ended the set with two kills.
GCU did not falter in the second set, jumping out to a 7-3 lead thanks in part to two Shmelev aces. Ottawa came within two but the Lopes earned eight of the next 10 points to widen the lead. Sophomores David Kisiel
and Ian McLain
entered the match to start GCU's substitutions. Kisiel landed a quick kill to give the Lopes a 10-point lead which helped shut down the set. A bevvy of Ottawa service errors would be all the home team needed to win the set and take a 2-0 match lead.
McLain, Kisiel, Janke and Petchul joined sophomores Avery Enriques
and Trevor Weary
with freshman Kyle Thompson
to start the third. After leading 15-11, freshman middle Parker Broadway
made his GCU debut replacing Janke. Up four points once again at 19-15, another Lope made his debut as opposite Hugo Fischer
Ottawa refused to go down without a fight, however, using a 3-0 scoring run to try and force a forth set by pulling within a point. But service errors continued to hurt the Spirit and the last serve hit the net to give GCU the 25-23 win.
"This team is starting to turn the corner as a unit and is finding its stride," added Werle. "We have another big road trip coming up, playing three matches in as many nights. We need to focus and get our minds and bodies right to come away with three wins."
The Lopes head to Nashville, Tenn., next weekend to participate in Off The Block's second annual "Grow the Game Challenge." GCU will face Barton College, Lindenwood and Lincoln Memorial on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to start a five-game road trip.