By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Women’s Club Volleyball
This is the program to watch.
The Grand Canyon University Women’s Club Volleyball not only hold the Mountain West Volleyball Conference title for a third consecutive year but a first-ever National Collegiate Volleyball Federation National Championship title. The Lopes officially began defense of those titles as they went 4-0 in the season-opening Arizona Regional Tournament last Saturday at the Canyon Activity Center on the GCU campus.
“We are a solid team all around,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Kristine Naber. “The majority of our girls are returning from last year’s national championship team. We have added players on both the offensive and defensive sides that make this team not only fun to watch, but stronger than last year.”
The Lopes opened up the tournament with controlled performances against Grand Canyon University “C”, Arizona State University “A”, Arizona State University “B” and Northern Arizona University, going 4-0. On Saturday, the Lopes had a close three-set triumph (24-26, 26-24, 15-4), against Arizona State “A”, but that was the only match where the Lopes didn’t bring home a two-set sweep.
“GCU “A” beat ASU “A” in three, after losing the first set and being down late in the second set,” said Naber. “It was good to see how they responded with their backs against the wall.”
The Lopes look to continue to defend their title this season by playing on their strengths.
“Across the board, I felt like our girls represented the program very well,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Kristine Naber. “Each team had its individual strengths and areas that we will go back and focus on in the next couple of weeks during practice.”
GCU “Black” went 2-2, while GCU “Platinum” went 0-4 in the tournament.
“GCU Black is the strongest second team that we have had in the program’s history,” said Naber. “We are working on consistency of executing on the offensive side and eliminating unforced errors. However, we are a strong group in every position.”
The Lopes will return to the Canyon Activity Center for another GCU-hosted tournament Feb. 8.
Men’s Club Volleyball
The Grand Canyon University Men’s Club Volleyball team also hosted their own Arizona Regional Tournament at the CAC Saturday. The Lopes went a combined 2-2 against Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and University of Nevada.
“I think it went pretty well,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Trent Bruns. “I was pleased with our mentality, but we need to tighten up our focus throughout the point.”
The Lopes opened up the tournament against ASU “B”, defeating the Sun Devils in two sets, 25-19, 25-20. The Lopes then lost to UNLV in a close two-set match but bounced back with a 2-1 victory over ASU (23-25, 25-22, 15-13). The Lopes then finished the tournament losing in three to NAU.
“I was pleased with our passing and the way we ran our middles – in and off the net,” said Bruns. “We were able to incorporate our middles in a lot of plays due to our passing and defense.”
The Lopes are looking to improve on their skills, starting with their mental game.
“We are going to tighten up our focus and improve in areas when players are not involved,” said Bruns. “We struggle when we are directly interacting with the ball – like passing, spiking, blocking. We need to move better and play ahead of the game more.”
The Lopes will be on the road Feb. 8 for the Arizona Regional Tournament in Flagstaff.