#9 Grand Canyon Overcomes 2-Set Hole To Claim MPSF Opener vs. #14 Pepperdine

  0 Derek Johnson | February 08th, 2018 | College - Men's Indoor, MPSF, News


  • #9 Grand Canyon Def. #14 Pepperdine 3-2 (17-25, 17-25, 25-14, 25-20, 15-9)
  • #9 Grand Canyon 11-2 (1-0 MPSF); #14 Pepperdine 4-3 (0-1 MPSF)
  • Phoenix, Arizona (MPSF Match)
  • Box score

Phoenix, Arizona – In the MPSF opener for both teams, #9 Grand Canyon overcame a 2-0 set deficit for the reverse sweep over #14 Pepperdine. The win reaffirms the Lopes spot in the top 10, as they were pushed to the limited before exploding for a 65-43 advantage in the final three sets.

In total, the better team probably came out victorious as Grand Canyon hit at a higher rate (.392 to .254), had more digs (34-22), blocks (13.5 to 10.5) and less serve errors (12-16). Pepperdine’s redeeming quality was a serve that produced a nine to two ace advantage, but it didn’t do enough in keeping the Lopes out of system.

The first two sets were lopsided to Pepperdine’s way though as the aces and offense clicked to .524 and .407 marks in the opening two games. Robert Mullahey (45 assists, four blocks, four digs) facilitated the attack as Alex Harthaller led the way in kills (14). While the Waves had four others between eight and 11 kills, it was the bottom three in terms of swings who hit efficiently. Meanwhile, Harthaller and Colby Harriman (11 kills) – who had the two highest volumes of attempts – combined for 25 kills on 65 tries with 17 errors in between, or a .123 hitting percentage.

The ability to limit the top two options was enough despite the efforts of the other three for the Grand Canyon defense, mainly because the offense got it clicking in the third. Not only did the Lopes hold Pepperdine to .040, .226 and .000 clips respectively in the final three games, but they hit .571, .480 and .500 in their last three after .150 and .292 percentages in the openers.

Leading that turnaround were Cullen Mosher (15 kills, .462), Luke Turner (12 kills, .733) and Will Schwob (11 kills, .208, six digs, four blocks). Ashton King also added six blocks on the defensive side to his six kills. Speaking of that defensive side, Sky Engleman‘s 12 digs were more than half of what Pepperdine got as a team.

Moving forward, Pepperdine will look for win number one in MPSF action against Concordia Irvine coming up. For Grand Canyon, they’ll really look to validate their hot start as they host #2 UCLA over the weekend.

Press Releases

Courtesy of Grand Canyon:

PHOENIX – The Grand Canyon University men’s volleyball team earned their first ever MPSF win on Thursday night coming back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat Pepperdine 3-2. Set scores were 17-25, 17-25, 25-14, 25-20 and 15-9. The win is GCU’s fifth in a row and moves them to 11-2 and 1-0 in conference play while Pepperdine drops to 4-3 and 0-1.

“We have been getting off to slow starts in the last few matches and it has hurt us,” said head coach Matt Werle. “Pepperdine came out ripping from the service line and attacked aggressively. Our service game needs to improve and get tougher in order to keep teams like that out of system.”

GCU’s slow start looked to be the end but the Lopes kept fighting and refused to give up. Down 0-2 after 17-25 defeats in both sets, Werle changed the lineup for the third and the GCU attack came alive. Luke TurnerZachary Melcher and Cullen Mosher provided the spark GCU needed to mount a comeback. The third set saw a .571 hitting percentage for the Lopes followed by marks of .480 and .500 to bring the match average to a .392 mark compared to the Waves .254. GCU would lead in kills, blocks, assists and digs and only trail in aces and points on the night.

Mosher led the match with 15 kills to go along with a .462 hitting percentage and an ace. Turner and Will Schwob also netted double-digit kills with 12 and 11 respectively with Turner hitting at a .733 mark. Melcher came off the bench at the end of the second set and would go on to lead the Lopes in assists with 27 in addition to three kills and an ace. On defense, both Ashton King and Caleb Blazer led the Lopes with six blocks with Sky Engleman adding a team-high 12 digs.

“I am very pleased with the way Cullen and Luke attacked tonight,” commented Werle. “Both of those guys were unstoppable on the outside for the final three sets.”

The Waves looked like they would out-play GCU in every part of the game through the first two sets. The visitors hit .524 and .407 while keeping the Lopes below .300. GCU had one lead in the match which came at the 1-0 point in the second set. After that the Waves would take over again and jumped out to a commanding 0-2 match lead.

Instead of allowing the first home sweep since 2015 the Lopes made some lineup changes and started the third with Turner and Melcher. The changes paid off early helping GCU run up a 6-2 lead. Pepperdine responded by bringing the set within one before the Lopes used a 4-0 with a Mosher kill and ace at the bookends. From there, the visitors would fail to come within three points and trailed by as much as 11 before King buried a kill to keep the Lopes alive, 1-2.

The momentum stayed with GCU as they jumped out to another early lead in the fourth, this time with the score reading 5-2. The Lopes would keep a healthy lead until back-to-back aces helped the Waves land five of six points and brought the set to 23-20. Mosher would go on to land a quick kill before a Waves attack error sealed the set and tied the match at two apiece.

The Lopes set the tone early in the fifth thanks to a 3-0 lead behind a Melcher ace, Blazer kill and a huge triple-block from Schwob, Blazer and Turner which forced a Pepperdine timeout. GCU would go up by as much as seven thanks in part to kills from Mosher and King in addition to back-to-back Pepperdine errors. The Waves tried to stop the Lopes reverse sweep with two late points but Mosher would mark the comeback complete with a kill to give the Lopes the 15-9 set and match win.

Werle knows how tough these conference matches can be and is expecting more battles saying, “The quicker our guys understand that the MPSF is going to be a grind each match, the better off we will be when starting matches. With that being said, I am very proud of the way these guys never gave up!”

Looking ahead

The Lopes will continue their home stand and conference play on Saturday, Jan. 10 when No. 2 UCLA comes to Antelope Gym. The Bruins are 12-1 on the season and have been a constant at the top of the AVCA rankings. The match is set to begin at 6 p.m. (MST).

Courtesy of Pepperdine:

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The No. 11 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team worked ahead early against Grand Canyon on Thursday night in the Antelope Gymnasium, but the Antelopes completed a reverse sweep to win the first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match of the season.

The Waves (4-3, 0-1 MPSF) went ahead with a pair of 25-17 set wins, but the Antelopes (11-2, 1-0 MPSF) collected 25-14, 25-20 and 15-9 final set scores to earn the 3-2 victory

Pepperdine Logo BIG WAVES


  • Alex Harthaller (Innsbruck, Austria/Akademischeg Gymnasium/IPFW): 14 kills, 3 blocks, 31 reception attempts
  • Colby Harriman (Rochester, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit HS): 11 kills, 2 aces, 3 digs, 1 block
  • David Wieczorek (Chicago, Ill./Loyola Academy): 11 kills, .261 hitting %, 3 aces, 4 digs, 4 blocks (1 solo), 31 reception attempts
  • Michael Wexter (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West HS): 8 kills, .538 hitting %, 1 ace, 6 blocks
  • Max Chamberlain (Burbank, Calif./John Burroughs HS): 9 kills, .500 hitting %, 2 aces, 2 blocks
  • Robert Mullahey (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa HS): 45 assists, 4 blocks, 4 digs
  • Weston Barnes (Laguna Beach, Calif./Laguna Beach HS/George Mason): 8 digs, 2 assists
    Pepperdine Logo WAVES VS. ANTELOPES

    The Waves posted 54 kills on a .254 hitting percentage, compared to the Antelopes 56 kills on a .392 success rate. Pepperdine led both sides with nine aces against Grand Canyons two, but 22 digs and 10.5 blocks from the Waves were just under the Antelopes’ 34 digs and 13.5 blocks on the night.


    Set K-E-TA (Pct)1. 12-1-21 (.524)

    2. 15-4-27 (.407)

    3. 9-8-25 (.040)

    4. 13-6-31 (.226)

    5. 5-5-14 (.000)

    TOTAL: 54-24-118 (.254)


    Set K-E-TA (Pct)1. 10-7-20 (.150)

    2. 11-4-24 (.292)

    3. 14-2-21 (.571)

    4. 14-2-25 (.480)

    5. 7-1-12 (.500)

    TOTAL: 56-16-102 (.392)

    Pepperdine Logo PLAY-BY-PLAY

    Pepperdine busted out to a quick start in the first set, fueled early by a 4-1 lead that advanced to a 14-11 advantage later in the set. Blocks from Mullahey and Chamberlain and then again by Harthaller, Wexter and Harriman helped the Waves to a 23-15 lead on the home stretch. A final kill from Harriman and block collaboration from Harthaller and Wexter earned the Waves a 25-17 win.Fueled off the first set win, the Waves came out strong in the second with another 4-1 lead early. After a few back-and-forth options including more blocks from Mullahey, Wexter, Chamberlain and Wieczorek, Pepperdine worked ahead to a 19-13 gap. The Waves continued to pound down on the opposition with multiple kills from Chamberlain and Harthaller for the set-point opportunity. A Kaleb Denmark ace and final block from Harthaller and Wexter put the Waves at a 2-0 lead with a 25-17 set win.

    Despite a 2-0 lead heading into the third, Grand Canyon came out stronger than before, collecting an 11-6 lead. The opposition continued to find the hold en route to a 21-11 lead late in the set. The Waves were unable to close the gap, resulting in a 25-14 GCU win to make it 2-1 Pepperdine on the night.

    The opposition came out strong again in the fourth, collecting an 11-5 lead early on. A late comeback attempt from the Waves fell short and the Lopes took a 25-20 set win to advance the game to a fifth set.

    In the final set, GCU was fueled from the momentum of the previous two sets and worked ahead to an 8-3 lead early. The Waves put a few points together, but were unable to close the gap and fell 15-9 to fall 3-2 on the night.

    Pepperdine Logo NEXT UP

    Next, Pepperdine takes on Concordia-Irvine on the road on Saturday to continue MPSF action. Follow the Waves on Facebook and Twitter, @PeppVolleyball, and follow the team on Instagram, @PepperdineWaves. Get all the most recent schedules, results and more on www.PepperdineWaves.com.


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