By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
Trying to finish out 2017-18 on a high note, the GCU Men’s Club Volleyball team travelled to Anaheim, California, to compete in the annual West Region Challenge March 16 and 17. In what would ultimately be their final competition of the season, the Lopes finished in 11th place out of 22 total teams.
As the first round of pool play commenced on Friday, the Lopes looked well-prepared for the weekend’s competition, claiming two quick victories in their initial matchups against Sacramento State University B and Utah Valley University B. Despite this strong start, the Lopes eventually faltered to San Diego State University A, closing out the first round of pool play with a record of 2-1.
After ending Friday with a loss, the men’s team looked forward to a fresh start as the second round of pool play began Saturday morning. However, the Lopes struggled to reverse the trend, picking up two additional losses at the hands of the Air Force Academy and Utah Valley University A. With a record of 2-3 at the close of the second round of pool play, GCU found themselves out of championship contention, and placed within the tournament’s Bronze Bracket. Unable to right the ship, the Lopes suffered their final loss of the tournament to the Colorado School of Mines, finishing in 11th place overall.
Many of the team’s struggles over the weekend stemmed from self-inflicted errors.
“If we could pass a tough serve, we would be able to compete with anyone, but we just struggled to pass a tough serve in a way that let us run our offense,” explained Lopes’ Head Coach Chuck Hunter. “When we have a good pass, we will side out the majority of the time.”
Hunter saw several other areas of improvement that his team will need to focus on before next season. “We need to improve in our serve receive and defensive play,” said Hunter. “We need to make teams work harder, to not give them easy balls so they stay in system, as well as to grit out some more points with good defense and aggressive offense.”
Despite an unsavory finish to the season, Hunter was still pleased with how far his team has come. “At the beginning of the year, we knew that we had talent to do really good things,” noted Hunter. “The more we played, the more we believed, and the things we thought were surprises in our play started being a reality each match. I am very proud of our guys. They worked hard, have good character and good team chemistry off the court as well as on the court.”
With the season officially over, and a plethora of valuable lessons learned, the Lopes now turn their attentions to preparing for next season.
“I think that we will continue to improve next year,” noted Hunter. “When you gain the experience we did, and add a few more pieces to the mix, we will continue to compete at a high level.”
Interested in joining the men’s club volleyball team? Contact the coach to learn more!