Grand Canyon’s men’s volleyball season came to an
end with a 3-1 loss to Ball State in the Midwestern Intercollegiate
Volleyball Association Quarterfinals at GCU Arena Saturday.
The Antelopes (15-17) lost by set scores of 26-24, 15-25, 25-19, 26-24. Ball State (14-11) will advance to play top-seeded Ohio State in a semifinal match in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday.
“We just didn’t get the job done tonight,” said GCU coach Jeremy Price. “Ball State did a nice job shutting down our middles and we didn’t make some good decisions when we needed to.”
GCU served leading 24-23 in both the first and fourth sets, but Ball State wrapped up each by scoring the final three points. GCU jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set.
“We got off to a bad start in the first set and I thought we had a tremendous end-game, but we didn’t finish,” said Price. “Give Ball State credit, their defense was outstanding, especially in the third and fourth sets.”
Neither team hit with great accuracy. GCU finished with a .156 attack percentage and Ball State hit .140. The Cardinals had 16 blocks to GCU’s 11.5. Both teams had 49 digs and the serving was pretty even, too. GCU had two aces and 12 service errors. Ball State had an ace and 11 errors.
All-MIVA outside hitter Ben Ponnet led GCU with 11 kills. Robbie Brannick added 10. Brannick also had five block assists.
Senior middle hitter Taylor Galliano also had five block assists and one solo. He added six kills in his final match as an
Antelope. Senior outside hitter Taylor Griffin
sparked the ‘Lopes off the bench with five kills, a .400
hitting percentage and four digs, all coming in the fourth set.
Setter Keith Smith had 39 assists, a team-high 10 digs and five kills. Ponnet and libero All-MIVA libero Trent Bruns had eight digs.
In only his fifth start, Jake Wekell had eight kills, seven digs and combined on three blocks, including one solo.
The loss was disappointing, but the season was not. The Antelopes set a school record for wins (15) and scratched off a number of program firsts throughout the year.
GCU won its first match against a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation team (UC San Diego), its first road MIVA match (IPFW) and tonight hosted its first MIVA tournament contest.
Picked to finish seventh in the preseason coaches’ poll, Grand Canyon placed fourth and went 5-7 in league games. The Antelopes came into the season with only one MIVA win in two seasons.
“This was a signature season,” said Price. “I don’t think a lot of people outside the program expected it. We expected to do well and are disappointed we didn’t accomplish more. We made a significant step in building for our future.”