By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Two programs cut short – right before the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) National Championship.
Women’s Club Volleyball
The defending national champs won’t get their opportunity to defend the title.
At least, not until next year.
The Lopes began defense of that first-ever national title as they went 4-0 in the season-opening Arizona Regional Tournament at the Canyon Activity Center in late January on their home turf. The Lopes then finished the second half of the Arizona Regional tournament in Flagstaff two weeks later. The Lopes had an undefeated run (8-0) in the Arizona Regional, only dropping two sets (one set in Flagstaff and one set in Phoenix) against Arizona State University.
After taking home the Mountain West Volleyball Conference title each of the past three seasons, the Lopes lost in the semifinal round of this year’s expanded, 12-team conference tournament in Colorado Springs, Colorado in early March. GCU met their match against ASU’s ‘A’ team in the semifinals, losing in straight sets.
“This program is moving in the right direction,” said Naber. “We have such a positive leadership group from our student-athletes, accomplishments on the court, success in the classroom, and we continue to grow our numbers.”
The Lopes had four student leaders this season that clearly had an encouraging impact on their season.
“Each girl took on a different role,” said Naber. “However, seeing them work together to continue to build a strong foundation and culture was enjoyable.”
Last season was their first-ever appearance on a national stage which led them to a straight-set victory over Auburn University in the title match. Unfortunately, the Lopes will not get to travel to Missouri for the national spotlight this spring.
“It would have been great to see both of these teams compete in Kansas City at the NCVF Nationals,” said Naber. “We’ll get back to work in the fall, and work towards representing GCU in 2021.”
Men’s Club Volleyball
The potential was there.
New Lopes’ Head Coach Trent Bruns, a former assistant on the NCAA level of volleyball at GCU, brought a promising season to the program.
The Lopes started their season hosting the Arizona Regional Tournament, going 2-2 against Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and University of Nevada.
“We were able to create a good culture,” said Bruns. “The guys had fun together and we learned a lot. We learned from the NAU (Northern Arizona University) game and took that knowledge to find success in Colorado because of it.”
Following the tournament, the team clinched a second-place finish in the Mountain West Volleyball Conference Tournament in Colorado Springs. The Lopes went a combined 4-2 overall, but unfortunately had to forfeit the championship match to the University of Colorado due to flights.
“The best part of the season was our Colorado trip,” said Bruns. “We had to play one of the top teams twice, and ended up going 2-0. The rematch to make it into the finals went to overtime, and we ended up winning.
“We grew as a family and we grew as a team,” said Bruns. “That is what sport is all about.”