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GCU Women’s Club Volleyball starts up 4v4 league

women's volleyball team scrimmaging on court
February 4, 2021

Lopes organize weekly intrasquad tournament play for competition

By: Julie Laugel/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff

With the fate of their spring season still unknown, the GCU Women’s Club Volleyball team took it upon itself to get back into competition. The Lopes organized a 4v4 tournament to compete in weekly matches against other teammates. The tournament began last week, and will continue until final bracket play in March.

“Keeping everyone engaged and excited about coming to practice when you’re in different phases, sometimes getting shut down or having to take a day off while also not having any competition to look forward to is difficult,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Kristine Naber. “We still have 50 girls in the program, and so that’s where the 4v4 league came from.”

In what is normally the team’s busy competitive season, the Lopes have continued limited practices while complying with COVID-19 guidelines. With current restrictions limiting the number of athletes that can be on the court, the team came up with the idea of the 4v4 league in order to mix in some fun competition along with their practices.

The team separated into ten groups for the tournament, playing against a new group each week in three sets to 25. The total number of set wins will be tallied to create seedings for the final bracket tournament play, where one team will ultimately be named champion.

“I’ve played volleyball for eleven years, so I always loved the competition aspect,” said Lopes’ student leader Lauren Damour. “At this level, a lot of it is just to have fun and compete, so last semester was difficult because it’s hard to do such simple drills and not be able to play. The 4v4 tournament has brought a competitive component, but a lot of girls are just having fun with it.”

“As a student leader, I try to keep positive and keep the girls encouraged to show up to practice by having fun drill ideas or getting involved in how everyone’s lives are personally at home,” said Lopes’ senior Angie Castaneda. “The 4v4 league is something to look forward to because we don’t have competitions to look forward to yet. A lot of the girls are loving it, too, because we finally get to do something other than practicing all the time.”

The tournament also helps the coaches get a better look at which athletes are taking charge on the court and still play at a high level in case the sport transitions to a phase when full competition is once again allowed.

“I like seeing if a player is consistent – whether the team is higher or lower – and also still encouraging, because that’s so much of club volleyball and everyone’s not at the same level,” said Naber. “These girls always have energy and excitement, and they want to come play. That’s the beauty of club sports is that they are paying and choosing to do it, so it is fun. You could tell there was a little bit more on the line, and the 4v4 league gives them an opportunity to be competitive.”

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