By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
After a long winter break, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Club Volleyball team showed no hesitation in getting right back into the swing of competition over the weekend.
Coming into the Mountain West Volleyball Conference Las Vegas Season Opener, the Lopes were projected as the sixth-ranked team out of all 12 competitors. By the last day of competition, GCU managed to fight their way to a fourth-place finish. Meanwhile, Utah Valley University claimed the first-place finish by downing Air Force in the championship match.
“We play with a lot of heart,” noted Lopes’ Men’s Club Volleyball Head Coach Chuck Hunter following the weekend games. “The guys are learning to play at a high level with more consistency, and the hope is that we continue to steady out as we move through our season.”
In addition to playing with heart and consistency, Hunter noted his team’s exceptional flexibility when it came to lineup changes and situational play. “We have a lot of guys that can play different positions,” said Hunter. “This weekend, we had issues with injuries, and the line-up we used was very different than the way we have been practicing, but the guys made the needed adjustments and won some big matches.”
Despite their best efforts, though, the Lopes were still unable to crack the top three in placement-mostly due to unforced errors. “We have two areas of weakness that need to be improved, which include serve/receive and serving tough and in the court,” explained Hunter.
Although these errors may have been costly over the weekend, Hunter is well aware that they can be an invaluable part of his team’s improvement going forward, pointing out that “we need to go through these hard times to help mature us.”
The Lopes hope this maturity will come sooner rather than later as the team will face off against the same teams again later in the year at the next conference tournament. Additionally, the Lopes will have a chance to gauge their improvement on February 10 as they host a tournament in the Lopes’ Performance Center on the GCU campus. Among the teams attending are the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (who the Lopes beat in three over the weekend), and defending tournament champion Utah Valley University (who defeated the Lopes in three).