Lopes go undefeated to take home conference title for third straight year
By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
The Lopes and the term “three-peat” go hand-in-hand!
The Grand Canyon University Women’s Club Volleyball team continue to prove that they are the team to beat. After bringing home the Las Vegas Invitational title in January, the Lopes clinched a third straight Mountain West Volleyball Conference title Saturday. The defending champs now advance to the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Nationals next month.
“It was a goal to go undefeated in the tournament,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Kristine Naber. “It was not only a goal of mine, but the goal for the team. Their mentality is, ‘We don’t lose,’ and that can be hard to teach.”
The Lopes opened up pool play with controlled performances against Central Michigan University, Utah Valley University “B”, and Utah State University “B” team, going 3-0. On Saturday, the Lopes entered the quarterfinals and swept Colorado Mesa A in a two-set triumph. In the semifinals, the Lopes battled with Air Force, and defeated them in a close 2-1 victory, propelling them to the championship match, which they won in another two-set victory over Utah State University.
“We lost the first set against Air Force, which hasn’t happened before,” said Naber. “It was the first time we were put on our heels. We were able to come back and win while maintaining our composure. This was the turning point of our game.”
The Lopes had an undefeated run (6-0), only dropping two sets in the tournament against Ricks College and Air Force.
Consistency and composure has been a continued pattern with each match.
“I feel proud that our team’s hard work and determination paid off with all of the running and challenging drills we do during practices,” said Lopes’ libero Angie Castaneda. “We maintained our team’s chemistry and composure with each opponent.”
The Lopes’ Angie Castenada, Olivia Brunt, Amanda Cassidy, and Tori Whitcomb were also selected to the MWVC All-Conference Team.
“The team chemistry has always been there,” said Naber. “There is a trust factor that has been put into place and it constantly grows. The girls on that team are “two feet in”, and understand what the philosophy, culture, and goal is for the team. There is no individual play, because we are a team.”
The Lopes will be on the road for the NCVF Nationals in Denver, Colorado April 18-20.