Lopes fall to Arizona State University in semifinals
By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
A tough loss, brings a humble mentality.
After taking home the Mountain West Volleyball Conference title each of the past three seasons, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Club Volleyball team lost in the semifinal round of this year’s expanded, 12-team conference tournament Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Lopes – who are also the defending national champs – met their match against Arizona State University’s ‘A’ team in the semifinals, losing in straight sets, 25-20, 25-19.
“The competition has grown over the years,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Kristine Naber. “We didn’t drop a set in the first day, and we beat every team in two sets. My expectations were to make it into the gold bracket, and exceeded expectations for that day.”
The Lopes had an undefeated run in pool play (4-0), despite being without starting setter Olivia Brunt. The Lopes didn’t drop a set, sweeping Colorado Mesa University (25-14, 25-9), Utah State University ‘A’ (25-20, 25-21), Arizona State University ‘A’ (25-19, 25-17) and University of Wyoming (25-17, 25-16).
“The competition was good,” said Naber. “We didn’t feel pressured at all. We kept focus on getting the next point and not on what we couldn’t do. Whether it was a great play or a bad play, we kept looking towards the next play. That helped us that first day.”
The Lopes carried that momentum into bracket play against ASU’s ‘B’ team, winning in three sets (25-20, 23-25, 18-16) to advance to the semifinals for the rematch against ASU’s ‘A’ team.
“It was the mentality going into the second day that got us,” said Naber. “We knew going into it that there was a target on our backs. We were the champs the last three years, so there is that pressure. We needed to focus on what we could control in that moment, and we didn’t do that the whole tournament.”
Despite the tough loss, the MWVC coaches and commissioners honored two Lopes for their outstanding performances in the tournament. Anna Spearbeck made the 2020 All-Conference Women’s Team and Lauren Damoor earned Honorable Mention.
“Anna is so reliable, and Lauren is all around a great player,” said Naber. “Anna has such vision on the court, while Lauren took on a leadership role this tournament. These girls stepped it up when their team needed them, and it is well deserved.”
The Lopes leave the court, not defeated, but with their heads held high.
“Every team is beatable,” said Naber. “Don’t make a match or a set bigger than what it actually is. The goal is to get the next point, and we are treating every game – no matter the status – that way. To be in the top three of the conference is great for the girls and the program.”
GCU now prepares to defend their title at Nationals in April in Kansas City.
“When we look towards Kansas City, there are not only expectations from other teams, but expectations for us individually,” said Naber. “I don’t think losing is bad. Any time we go against a good team and are challenged, it exposes our weaknesses. Every team has weaknesses, and now it’s a matter on how we turn that into strengths.”