Grand Canyon Sweeps NJIT in Home Opener

  0 Wendy Mayer | January 18th, 2018 | College - Men's Indoor, EIVA, MPSF, News


  • #13 Grand Canyon def. NJIT 3-0 (27-25, 25-23, 25-14)
  • Grand Canyon moves to 6-1; NJIT falls to 0-6
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Attendance: 1,021
  • Box Score 


PHOENIX – Grand Canyon got back on the winning track with a sweep of NJIT in its home opener, rebounding from last Sunday’s sweep at the hands of Hawaii.

The Lopes outhit the Highlanders .282 to .176 , including a .368 to -.067 effort in a Set 3 rout. NJIT outserved GCU 6-2 in aces and trailed by just one block (9-8).

Senior outside hitters Cody Williams and Shalev Saada put down 10 kills apiece to pace the GCU offensive charge, with each hitting .250 or better. Junior outside Will Schwob (6) and redshirt senior middle Ashton King (5) followed. King hit at a .714 clip (5-0-7) and put up a team-high five blocks.

Redshirt senior opposite Raymond Kowalski led NJIT with nine kills, four blocks and two aces. Freshman opposite Alvaro Gimeno (7), junior outside Tyler Brandow (6) and senior middle Kevin Myren (5) rounded out the offense.

GCU led 14-7 early in Set 1 only to see NJIT rally to within one at 17-16 and eventually tie the score at 20 and take a 22-21 lead of its own. Kowalski notched two blocks, two kills and an ace in the first rally. Two blocks and a kill by Alvaro Gimeno put the Highlanders on top. After ties at 22 and 23, NJIT had the first shot at the set at 24-23 after a service error. A Schwab kill leveled the score and a service error thrwarted a second NJIT attempt. A hitting error and a solo stuff by Saada sealed the GCU comeback at 27-25.

The Lopes carried the momentum to a 4-1 lead in Set 2, but NJIT countered to take a 7-6 lead and go up by two at 11-9 behind two kills and an ace by Gimeno. After tying it up at 15, GCU surged ahead with a 4-0 run, including three Highlander miscues that made it 19-17 Lopes. NJIT rallied to within one at 23-22 and held off the first Grand Canyon set point try at 24-22, before giving up a service error to cap the 25-23 loss.

Grand Canyon wasted no time building a six-point lead in Set 3, racing out to a 10-4 advantage with help from three kills and two blocks by Luke Turner and five NJIT miscues. The Highlanders would get no closer than four the rest of the way. Saada notched four kills as GCU went up 20-11. The Lopes ended the night on a 5-0 run, including two stuffs by King, who paired up with Puna Kaniho for the final block and the GCU win.


Courtesy: Grand Canyon Athletics

The No. 12 Grand Canyon University men’s volleyball team played in front of their home crowd for the first time in 2018 on Thursday night when they swept the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Set scores were 27-25, 25-23 and 25-14. The win gives the Lopes a 6-1 record, the best start in program history. With the loss, NJIT falls to 0-6.

“There are some bright notes to take away from this,” Said head coach, Matt Werle. “I am happy that we were able to win a couple duce sets. Secondly, getting the first win at home is great. Our fan support is like none other across the country. It took some getting used to for our own guys because of how loud the gym is!”

The Lopes and the Highlanders battled in front of over a thousand fans in a packed Antelope Gym. The home court advantage seemed to help GCU as they led in almost all categories. Both teams had 85 attacks but GCU had the edge in kills with 39 while hitting .282 on the night compared to NJIT’s 33 kills and .176 hitting percentage. On defense, GCU had 30 digs and 9.5 blocks.

Cody Williams and Shalev Saada led the Lopes offensively with 10 kills each while hitting .273 and .350 respectively. Ashton King continued his hot streak after being selected to the Grow the Game Challenge All-Tournament team this past weekend, contributing five kills with a .714 hitting percentage in addition to two digs and a team-high five blocks. Puna Kaniho was all over the court as he netted two kills on two attempts as well as an ace to go along with his 29 assists and four digs.

The first set established the tone for the night. GCU came out of the gates hot, going up 13-6 thanks to a 7-0 run fueled by kills from five different Lopes. The Highlanders responded quickly scoring six of the next seven points to bring the match within two at 14-12. From there the two teams were neck and neck, ultimately bringing the match to a tie at 25. Will Schwob would serve to an NJIT error and a Saada block followed sending Antelope Gym into a frenzy as the Lopes took the first set 27-25.

The second set picked up right where the last one left off. Neither team led by more than three bringing the score to 17 all. Two NJIT errors gave the Lopes an advantage they would not relinquish. Lead in hand, GCU used a couple of blocks and kills before a Highlanders service error gave the home team a 2-0 match lead.

The third set was all GCU. The Lopes carried the momentum over and used it to go up by as much as 18-9 late in the set. NJIT used a 3-0 run to close the gap before a service error killed their rally. Luke Turner, who got the start in the set, earned a kill and would serve the final four points before a double block from King and Kaniho ended the set and the match.

“Luke Turner did his job nicely tonight. He blocked the balls he was supposed to block, dug the balls he was supposed to dig and did his job from the service line,” commented Werle.

“Our middles are coming along very nicely offensively and our quick back row attack is getting much better. With all that being said, we need to be a lot better on Saturday night against a much better team.”

Looking ahead
The Lopes are back in action at home against No. 6 UC-Irvine on Saturday night. The Anteaters come into the weekend with a 4-1 record, with their only loss coming from No. 2 UCLA. UCI will play three matches at GCU during the next two days. They will face NJIT on Friday night before facing Benedictine-Mesa on Saturday morning. The Lopes and the Anteaters will wrap up the weekend as they go head-to-head on Saturday at 6 p.m.


Courtesy: NJIT Athletics

NJIT men’s volleyball fell to #12 Grand Canyon in straight sets, 25-27, 23-25 and 14-25 on Thursday night.

The Highlanders drop to 0-6, having played four out of six teams that were ranked in the top 12, including #2 Long Beach State, #4 UCLA, and #11 Cal State Northridge.

Raymond Kowalski led NJIT in three catergories including kills with nine, blocks with four and two aces with teammate Alvaro Gimeno. Junior Kowalski also produced five digs, with freshman Gimeno recording seven kills and two blocks and Tyler Brandow added six kills.

Setter Ricardo Whitaker made 23 assists and libero Shannon Heckman made a team-high six digs.

The Highlanders lead in serving aces, getting six in the match to the Antelopes two.

Grand Canyon (6-1) was led by Cody Williams who tallied a game-high 10 kills and Ashton King with a game-high five blocks. Puna Kaniho added a game-high 29 assists and Shalev Saada a game-high seven digs.

The first and second sets were close, but both went in favor of the Antelopes.

The Highlanders had the 25-24 advantage in the first set before Grand Canyon picked up the last three points to win the set.

The second set went at a similar pace with neither team leading by more than three points at a time.

Grand Canyon pulled away winning the third by 11 points to take the win.

The Highlanders continue play in Phoenix, playing UC Irvine Friday night at 6pm (PT)/8pm (ET).

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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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