MPSF Volleyball Results, Apr. 6

Ashton King, Grand Canyon (Photo courtesy GCU)
Ashton King, Grand Canyon (Photo courtesy GCU)
April 6, 2018

at Grand Canyon 3, USC 1 (19-25, 25-22, 29-27, 25-23)

Recap by GCU

PHOENIX - Another match, another program-best for Grand Canyon men's volleyball. The Lopes took down USC in four sets on Friday night for their 18th win, which is good for the most regular season wins in program history. Set scores were 19-25, 25-22, 29-27 and 25-23. The win improves GCU to 18-10, 4-8 on the season while the Trojans fall to 7-18, 3-8.

"This week we talked a lot about serving and passing." Said head coach Matt Werle. "I don't think we served well tonight, as there were some pretty bad errors from the line. I think our serve-receive was pretty good, but we need to run the middle more. This was a good win and guys like Luke Turner and Trevor Weary stepped up in a big way coming off the bench."

After dropping the first set, Turner and Weary helped get the Lopes back on track, going on to best the Trojans in multiple categories. GCU tied USC with 50 kills but led the match with 13 blocks, 50 assists, 34 digs and a .265 hitting percentage.

Shalev Saada led the Lopes offense for the second time this week, this time notching 20 kills with a .424 percentage, adding two assists, a dig and two blocks, one solo. Zachary Melcher continued his run of topping career-highs, setting his new mark in assists with 44 and blocks with six in addition to tying his career-best with six digs. Building on the trend of setting new bests, Ashton King recorded eight blocks (one solo), tying his season-high mark that was set against Stanford last week. Sky Engleman joined in on the fun as the libero was all over the court tonight on his way to 19 digs, a mark that is not only a GCU season-high but is tied for sixth best in the nation in a four-set match.

The first set had GCU's hopes of hosting a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation quarterfinals match in question as the Trojans tried to set the tone early. The Lopes had a 15-12 lead and seemed to have the set in hand but a three point Trojan swing had the score even and propelled the visitors. USC would use two separate 4-0 runs to take advantage and win the set, 25-19.

GCU changed their rotation for set number two with Turner and Weary to start. The personnel changed paid off immediately when Turner teamed up with Melcher and Caleb Blazer for a triple block to start the set. A 5-0 Lopes run would follow powered by three-straight Saada kills and a kill by Turner. The Lopes would not yield, sustaining the lead until a Weary landed a kill, King and Melcher followed with a block and Turner ended the set with a big kill assisted by Saada.

The match then turned into a best-of-three contest and both teams were up for the challenge. Neither side led by more than two points and the tension was evident when the score read 23-23. Going point-for-point, both teams tried to pull away. Down 27-26 a USC service error gave the Lopes momentum. Weary landed a kill to give the Lopes a lead. USC attempted to tie the set but Saada stepped up with a solo block and gave GCU the 2-1 match advantage.

GCU kept the momentum going in the fourth, jumping out to a 9-5 lead. USC responded by closing the gap to just two points. Enter, Saada. The senior stepped up to the service line and led the Lopes offense to four straight points featuring a kill from Weary and blocks from King, Melcher and Weary. The Trojans weren't going down without a fight. Playoff seeding on the line, the visitors went on a 5-0 run and eventually had the score reading 24-23 in favor of the Lopes. Saada put a stop to the comeback when he landed a set-sealing kill from Puna Kaniho and GCU took the 3-1 match win.

"Shalev was great offensively," Werle added. "That service run in the fourth was something that we really needed for that final push in the match. Sky played the way he is capable of playing. He had 19 digs and that is where he is capable of being. It was great to see him in playoff form and the guys are starting to peak heading into playoffs which is exactly what we need."

Looking ahead

The match marked the end of regular season play for the Lopes with MPSF Playoffs on the horizon. GCU's fate is up in the air as two more matches will determine final playoff seeding. Stanford will take on No. 4 Pepperdine at 5 p.m. (MST) and USC will travel back to California to face No. 13 Concordia at 7 p.m. (MST). If Stanford and Concordia fall, the Lopes will secure the No. 4 seed and host a quarterfinal match in Antelope Gym on Saturday, April 14.

at Concordia 3, UC Santa Cruz 0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-17)

MPSF Tournament Picture

No. 1 seed: BYU (Clinched)

No. 2 seed: UCLA or Pepperdine (Pepperdine holds tiebreaker)

No. 3 seed: UCLA or Pepperdine

Saturday Combinations to Determine Seeds 4-7

USC wins at Concordia and Stanford loses at Pepperdine

No. 7 seed =Stanford

No. 4 seed=GCU (4 MPSF wins plus 3-1 matches vs. USC/CUI)

No. 5 seed=CUI=IF CUI loses to USC 3-2 OR 3-1 and stay within 2 total points... (otherwise USC=5 seed and CUI=6 seed)

USC wins at Concordia and Stanford wins at Pepperdine

USC, Stanford, Concordia, and Grand Canyon all with four MPSF wins

All four teams 3-3 in matches vs. each other

Sets vs. each other entering April 7: Concordia: 11-7 sets....USC: 10-12 sets....Stanford: 12-13 sets....GCU: 12-13 sets

CUI = 4 seed (worst case 11-10 in sets is highest head-on set percentage vs. tied teams at .524)...

Stanford= 5 seed (9-9 in sets and +19 points vs. GCU, USC)

Grand Canyon=6 seed (2-0 matches vs. USC)

USC= 7 seed

Concordia wins vs. USC and Stanford wins at Pepperdine

Concordia=4 seed

Stanford=5 seed (2 wins over GCU)

GCU=6 seed

USC=7 seed

Concordia wins vs. USC and Stanford loses at Pepperdine

Concordia=4 seed

GCU=5 seed

USC=6 seed (2 wins over Stanford)

Stanford=7 seed