SANTA BARBARA, Calif. —
The Grand Canyon men's volleyball team flipped the script on its opening weekend, handing No. 11 Cal State Northridge its first loss of the season on Saturday evening. No. 14 GCU will return home with a 1-2 record after facing three ranked teams in as many days. GCU won by scores of 25-14, 15-25, 25-27, 25-20 and 15-10.
The Lopes more than doubled their ace total from the previous two matches, netting nine on the night. In addition, GCU led in kills (53), blocks (12), assists (48) and digs (33) while outhitting the opposition .231 to .168.
For the third straight match, freshman outside Christian Janke
led the Lopes in kills (18) and aces (4), both match-high marks among both sides on Saturday. Junior middle blocker Caleb Blazer
led all players with six blocks. Sophomore setter Onur Cukur
led the Lopes with 37 assists while adding four kills on four attempts. Junior outside Jack Burton
tallied seven digs. Sophomore opposite David Kisiel
added eight kills off the bench while hitting at a .400 clip.
The offense came alive for GCU in the first set, hitting .500 while holding CSUN (2-1) to a flat .000. The Lopes earned five of the first six points, three of which came from Janke (two kills and an ace). CSUN fought to bring the score within two at 7-5 but would pull no closer thanks to a potent Lopes attack. GCU led by as many as 10 points during the set, and senior opposite Will Schwob
put the finishing touch on the Matadors with a set-deciding kill.
The two teams shifted roles in the second set with the Matadors using a .444 hitting percentage to take momentum back. GCU dug itself a hole by committing nine total errors, two of which came in the first five points.
Both teams struggled with errors in the third set, trading leads to start. In the end it was a six-point CSUN run that would halt the Lopes with the score reading 16-10. GCU fought back to tie the set at 25, but the Matadors teamed up for a block following a kill to take the third.
The Lopes regained their first-set stride in the fourth. After trailing 10-6, GCU used a steady stream of attacks powered by a Kisiel service run to take a 17-15 lead forcing CSUN to use both timeouts. The Matadors tied it up, but GCU responded with a decisive 4-0 run capped off by a Burton ace to force a match-deciding fifth set.
As they did all match, the two sides traded blows up to a 9-9 tie. CSUN errors combined with kills from Burton and Cukur would spark a 4-0 run for the Lopes and they didn't look back. Cukur attacked out of his setter position to secure the last point and match for GCU.
Next, the Lopes will open their home season with back-to-back in-state foes. Benedictine and Ottawa visit Antelope Gym on Friday and Saturday with first serve set for 6 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.