BYU opens up conference play with consecutive loses at home

No. 2-ranked Grand Canyon University traveled to Provo last weekend for a two-match series. BYU was looking for revenge after losing last season 0-3 and 2-3 on the road at GCU.

This would be the Cougars’ first MPSF conference game of the season. Head Coach Shawn Olmstead told his team that this was like a new start to their season and they had no bad losses.

GCU is the last undefeated team in men’s college volleyball this season and even received five first-place votes. However, the Lopes had not played a top 10 team yet this season, presenting some question marks on if they could maintain their success against better opponents. GCU is led by head coach Matt Werle, the winningest coach in GCU history.

MATCH 1 (3-0)

In the 15th all-time match between BYU and GCU, the Lopes would sweep BYU in Provo. BYU would be without Trent Moser for both matches. He was dressed and ready to play but would not see action.

In set one, BYU took an early 15-12 lead. Despite GCU hitting .000 they would only trail by 1 at 16-17.

The Lopes used scrappy defense and blocking to take the lead at 20-19 which then became set point at 24-21.

Middle blocker, Rico Wardlow took over, recording huge kills for GCU.

In all, set one would last 44 minutes featuring 22 ties and 10 lead changes. BYU had five set-point chances and the Lopes had eight. The Lopes would take the set 34-32.

Set two would begin back and forth with BYU leading 15-14 at the first timeout.

GCU setter, Nicholas Slight would run into the scorer’s table but remained in the game and lead GCU to a 25-23 set win. Each of the first two sets ended with a GCU block.

In the third set, BYU would try to avoid being swept. The Cougars had not been swept since playing GCU last season and GCU had not lost three sets all season.

Again the set was back and forth with the Lopes winning 25-23.

None of the sets were won by more than two points.

“This was one of our worst matches of the year,” Wardlow said after the game on BYUtv.

Match 2 (3-0)

Wardlow would prove to be right and GCU would play better in match two.

Set one and two were won by GCU by at least four points.

Jon Stanley opened up serving for BYU in set three. He would win the first point before recording back to back aces and the Cougars looked like they once again had life.

BYU would lead 5-1 forcing a GCU timeout but the Lopes would go on their own 5-1 run tying the set at 6.

Set three would continue to be back and forth, but GCU would win 25-23.

The Lopes extended their winning streak to 11 games.

GCU’s outside hitter, Karter Rogers, tied his career high with 10 kills, while also tallying his career highs with five aces and six blocks. He hit .533 on the night after hitting .188 in match one.

The all-time series for the two teams is now tied at 8-8.

The Cougars will look to bounce back against No. 4-ranked UCLA at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo Feb. 23-24.

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