In another come-from-behind win, Grand Canyon improved to 5-3 with a 3-2 victory over visiting Hope International at Antelope Gymnasium Sunday.
It was GCU's sixth five-setter of the season. It is 4-2 in matches that have gone the distance. Two of the wins were from 2-0 deficits. Sunday's win, and Friday's victory over George Mason, came after being down 2-1.
GCU won in spite of 26 serving errors, though it was the serving of senior outside hitter Ben Ponnet that made the difference in the fifth set.
"Growing up I remember watching Wimbledon with my grandfather and he said, 'they do a lot better when they get the ball over the fence'," said GCU coach Jeremy Price. "We feel we're pretty good when we put the ball in play, but we're keeping teams around with our service errors. That can't happen against a solid, well-coached team like Hope."
Trailing 8-6 in the fifth, Ponnet served the next seven points, including back-to-back aces that tied the match, then put the 'Lopes up for good at 9-8.
"That was the turning point of the match," said Price.
Redshirt-sophomore Andrew Muys got one of the starts at outside hitter and took advantage of the opportunity with one of the 'Lopes strongest performances of the season. Muys finished with a match-best 22 kills and hit .595 on 37 attempts without an error. He added a team-best seven digs and was part of a match-best eight blocks, including one solo. He joined Ponnet for the team-high in service aces with two.
"It was the most complete match by an outside hitter all year," praised Price. "I thought (freshman setter) Michael Milstein, getting his first chance to set, did a really good job of distributing to our pins."
Milstein had 49 assists and six digs. Outside hitter Gerrard Lipscombe had 14 kills and four digs. Right-side hitter Robbie Brannick had 11 kills and was part of five block assists. Middle blocker Aquiles Montoya was part of six blocks and added three kills. In three sets, Sean Saxton had five block assists.
"Gerrard and Robbie were solid and efficient and I can't say enough about the blocking of Sean Saxton off the bench and Aquiles Montoya all match," said Price.
It was the third match in as many days for the Antelopes, all three went five sets. GCU gets a much-deserved bye week from competition before opening Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association action at Lindenwood Feb. 7-8. They will take on non-conference foe McKendree – who will join the MIVA in 2015 – on Feb. 9.
"It's a good time for our bye week before a tough conference opener at a tough place to play like Lindenwood," added Price.
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