Lopes’ season highlighted by win at Pacific Northwest Fall Regional Tournament
By: Mack Drake/GCU Staff
It’s hard to have a better debut season than the one turned in by the Grand Canyon University Club Spikeball team this year.
In just their first season of operation – one that didn’t begin on the club level until after the school year began – Lopes’ Head Coach Devon Mitchell and his team of spikeballers put GCU on the map with top finishes at three big tournaments on the west coast.
As well-rounded as the season was, there was no bigger highlight than GCU’s first-place finish at the Pacific Northwest Fall Regional tournament in March at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon — one of three Spikeball Roundnet Association (SRA) collegiate events on this year’s calendar.
“That was the most satisfying moment of the season,” said Mitchell, a junior from Vista, California, working on his bachelor’s degree in sports management. “That tournament really got our name out there, and it just felt amazing to win.”
The Lopes found a home competing in the SRA’s Southwest Region, which included the likes of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, University of California Los Angeles, San Diego State University, California Baptist University, University of California Santa Barbara, University of California-Irvine, Arizona State University and Azusa Pacific University of Stockton, California.
On top of winning the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament, GCU added a pair of fourth-place finishes at the fall and spring editions of the SRA Southwest Sectional Tournament, which were hosted by Cal Poly SLO and Loyola Marymount University, respectively.
Quality finishes in all three tournaments propelled the Lopes to a No. 16 ranking heading into the SRA College National Tournament in Maryland before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event altogether.
“It was a great season with a lot of learning experiences and memories,” said Mitchell, who also doubles as a player for GCU. “It was tough to have the season end like it did, but we all learned a lot and had a lot of fun.”
With 13 freshmen making up this year’s 24-player roster, Mitchell is excited about the future of the program.
Two of GCU’s top performers were Jarod Martin and Reese Anderson — a dynamic freshman duo who teamed up to win a gold medal at an intermediate tournament hosted by the Utah Roundnet Association at ASU in February.
Both are expected to be back in the mix next year.
“They represented GCU very well,” Mitchell said. “They were both brand-new to the competitive Spikeball scene, but worked hard and became a presence wherever they played.”
Also turning heads with their play were Carson Martin and Trevor King. The two juniors represented GCU’s “C Team” in sectional and regional tournaments. These events only allow a school to enter three teams, and Martin and King provided the Lopes with a boost out of the third slot. The pair finished the season unbeaten in squad play, beating No. 2 Cal Poly SLO and No. 6 UCLA twice.
“The biggest stride our team experienced during the season was taking pride and ownership,” Mitchell said. “Every athlete took pride in being part of the club, and took ownership of what they needed to do in order to reach both their individual and team goals.”
Interested, or curious, about the GCU Spikeball team? Visit the team page for all the latest news on one of GCU’s newest club programs!