GCU Volleyball falls 3-2 in D-I opener

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Grand Canyon (0-1) fell short in winning its initial women's volleyball match at the NCAA Division I level.

At the Wildcat Weekend in Ogden, Utah, hosted by Weber State, the Antelopes opened the season with a 3-2 loss to the home team Friday. GCU lost by set scores of 23-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-23, 15-9.

"I'm excited about how we came out and performed in our first Division I match," said GCU coach Kris Naber.

In the fourth set, GCU middle blocker Kristen Johannsen got a kill to give the Antelopes a 23-22 lead, before the Wildcats scored the final three points. There were 14 ties in the fourth set.

GCU scored the match's first point on a Jessica Posse service ace and went on to take the first set. Lanie Muys and Shannon Dugan each had four first-set kills. The pair led the Antelopes for the match with nine kills each. GCU junior libero Mackenzie Phelps, a preseason all-WAC choice, had a match-best 36 digs.

Posse had three of GCU's seven service aces, to go with 11 digs. Johannsen and Marilyn Agae each had two aces. Muys added a solo block and four assists. Dugan -- who played for GCU's sand team in the spring -- had two solo blocks in her first GCU indoor match. Megan Davis finished with 18 digs to go with seven kills. Hayleigh Friemoth and Kaitlynn Ausmus had eight kills each.

"We competed with a good ball club. Our block did a great job today, slowing balls down and funneling to our defense," added Naber. "(Phelps and Davis) were solid and extremely disciplined, which led to great defensive play."

The Antelopes controlled the third set from start to finish, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on a pair of Weber State attack errors, a Posse service ace and Muys' kill.

Neither team were efficent hitters in their season opener. GCU hit -.005, while Weber State hit just .091. GCU had more kills (50-43) and digs (86-69), but the Wildcats out-blocked the Antelopes 21-9.

"Our offense needs to get better at knowing when to swing against a big block and when to go a different route," said Naber. "That hurt us today, when you hit (-.005) for the match, you're not challenging their defense at all."

GCU continues play in the Wildcat Weekend with an 8 a.m. (Arizona time) match Saturday against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders split matches Friday losing to Seattle U 3-0 and defeating UC Riverside 3-0.

"We're not satisfied with just competing," added Naber on Friday's close match. "Each situation and match, win or lose, you'll need to make adjustments along the way. We'll look at today and see what we need to do in order to be successful next time out."

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