PHOENIX -- The GCU men's volleyball team validated their new No. 15 ranking on Tuesday night by defeating Concordia Irvine in three straight sets, 25-21, 25-21 and 25-20. The Lopes take a 17-10 record into the playoffs while the Eagles drop to 16-11.
It was a storybook ending for the four seniors, Jacob Thibodeau, Matthew Kinnebrew, Drake Silbernagel and Michael Milstein, as they were honored before their last regular season match. Team manager Fletcher Like was also recognized for his contributions to the team over the past four seasons.
The first set started out with back and forth play by the teams. GCU fell behind early, down 6-2, before fighting back into the set and forcing Concordia into a timeout with the score tied at 16. The Lopes broke the tie and didn't look back, taking the set 25-21 thanks to key kills down the stretch by Ashton King and Kinnebrew.
In Set 2, Concordia again came out hot and led 7-3 early. GCU battled back, cut down on errors and tied the set at 20. The Lopes would score five of the next six points to take a two set lead. Set 3 was all Lopes as they never trailed after being tied 4-4 to start play. GCU attacked at an outstanding .517 percentage in the third set and ended up with a 25-20 set win.
The seniors made the most of their night with Kinnebrew leading all players with 13 kills and 15.5 points. Fellow senior Silbernagel led the team with four blocks and added nine kills while outside hitter Cody Williams contributed 12 kills during the match. Cullen Mosher had a great night from behind the service line, recording three aces to lead all players. Setter Milstein had another impressive outing with 39 assists.
"This was a nice way to cap off a Senior Night!" GCU head coach Matt Werle commented. "All four Seniors had a huge impact on tonight's win: Michael [Milstein] with 39 assists, Drake [Silbernagel] with 9 kills hitting over .500, Jake [Thibodeau] passed very well and allowed our middles to get involved, and Matthew [Kinnebrew] was unstoppable offensively with 13 kills, hitting .684. These four will be missed greatly in seasons to come, but they are not finished yet!"
Next, GCU will host a first round home game in the MIVA playoffs for only the second time in school history. The game is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 15th and the Lopes opponent will be determined after conference play concludes this weekend.