By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Lopes go undefeated in taking home championship
As predicted, the Lopes delivered.
The Grand Canyon University Women’s Club Volleyball team set high standards for themselves and the future of their spring season. After bringing home the Mountain West Volleyball Conference title last season, the defending champs attested that they are more than prepared to claim the title once again as they clinched a first-place finish in the Las Vegas Invitational on January 25-26.
“From the get-go, we knew that being back-to-back champions, there would be a target on our backs,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Kristine Naber. “Going into it, we also knew ‘hey, we’re supposed to win this,’ and that was a challenge in itself. (we were) not just going in expecting to win it all, but going in and working for it.”
The Lopes swept all three of their matches, only dropping one set in the tournament against Ricks College (Idaho) in the championship match (25-18, 22-25, 15-9).
Versatility and consistency has been a key facet of the team’s success so far this season.
“It’s all about controlling our side of the court and playing at our level,” said Naber. “We needed to stay consistent on our side of the court, and be able to side-out effectively—which I thought they did well. We adjusted our blocking on defense, and didn’t allow teams to go on runs.”
Although showing a strong start to their spring season, the Lopes are staying focused to improve performance with each set.
“We have a well-rounded and a competitive team,” said Naber. “This team wants to win, and their work ethic stands out. When they step on that court, they all want to represent the team and the university.”
Lopes’ Team 2 Places Sixth
The Lopes’ Team 2 also traveled to Las Vegas, taking sixth place in the tournament.
“We play good scrappy defense,” said Naber. “We don’t have the firepower to put balls away consistently, so we have to frustrate teams. By playing defense, getting the ball back, and allowing the other team to make mistakes, we were able to stay in games.”
With spring season underway, Naber is looking to keep the program involved with challenging practices.
“It will be teams such as Ricks College that we will face at nationals,” said Naber. “We won’t be able to roll over any teams. They want to get in the gym and be better. That makes my job easy and makes my job fun.They are okay with being challenged.”