SANTA BARBARA, Calif. —
For the second time in as many nights, the Grand Canyon men's volleyball team fell in straight sets against a top-10 opponent. No. 10 UC Santa Barbara dropped No. 14 GCU to 0-2 on the young season by scores of 25-16, 25-15 and 28-26.
The Lopes were strong on defense again, but the offense hit to a tune of just .096 on the match and could not find a rhythm until the third set. The Gauchos (2-0) hit at a .306 clip and held the match edge in kills (39), aces (6), assists (37) and digs (35). GCU had the advantage in blocks, 7-6.
It was a night of firsts for several Lopes with Kyle Thompson
, Hugo Fischer
and Tanner Petchul
all making their GCU debuts while David Kisiel
and Avery Enriques
saw their first action of 2019.
Freshman outside Christian Janke
led the Lopes in kills for the second straight night with 12 and added two aces. Senior middle Alex Shmelev
made his presence known with a match-leading six blocks and added two aces of his own. Sophomore setter Onur Cukur
was good for 18 assists and shared the team lead in digs with senior opposite Will Schwob
The Lopes defense was evident early as blocks from Shmelev and Weary helped pace a 7-7 score in the first set. Nine of the next 10 points went to the home team, however, forcing GCU to use its first timeout. Janke cut the lead to four with back-to-back aces but the Lopes could not narrow the gap any further. UCSB secured the final four points to win the set 25-16.
The Gauchos carried the momentum into the second set, using a 3-1 run to start. Janke sparked the Lopes offense with two kills off the block to bring it within two at 8-6. UCSB tightened up and hit at a .542 clip in the set to keep the Lopes at bay and take a 2-0 match lead.
Enriques and Thompson earned the third-set start, a change that seemed to spark the Lopes. Two Janke kills, a Schwob solo block and a Jack Burton
kill gave the visitors some momentum and a 4-0 lead.
UCSB fought to tie it up but Janke earned three consecutive kills to swing GCU back out in front. Following two Gaucho errors and Thompson's first career kill, the score read 22-19 in GCU's favor. Following back-and-forth play, GCU had a match-point opportunity but Lopes errors put an end to the set and the match.
The Lopes will wrap up opening weekend by facing their third straight ranked opponent. No. 11 Cal State Northridge will take on GCU tomorrow with first serve coming at 4 p.m. (Phoenix time).