Grand Canyon to return to Grow the Game Challenge in 2019

[Editor’s note: Off the Block each day from Aug. 6-15 will unveil one team participating in the 2019 Grow the Game Challenge. The entire tournament field and match schedule will be unveiled Thursday, Aug. 16.]

A national ranked team will travel across the country to compete in the 2019 Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge.

Off the Block announced on Wednesday that Grand Canyon for the second straight year will particpate in the nation’s largest college men’s volleyball non-conference tournament.

“We are excited to return to Nashville for the second straight year,” Grand Canyon coach Matt Werle said. “Not only is Nashville a great city, but this is a wonderful tournament to be a part of with teams from all over the country.“

The Grow the Game Challenge is an annual event that brings regular season matches to an area of the nation that does not have a NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team. The 2019 tournament will feature 10 teams and take place on Jan. 18-20 at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Grand Canyon finished last season at No. 14 in the national coaches poll and for the first time its program history was nationally ranked every week during the season. In addition, the Antelopes advanced to the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Grand Canyon opened the 2018 season on a five-game winning streak, including sweeps against Limestone and North Greenville at the inaugural Grow the Game Challenge in Nashville. It also had a chance to win the tournament championship before losing to then-No. 4 Hawai’i in its tournament finale.

Among the starters returning for the Antelopes in 2019 is middle attacker Caleb Blazer who was in the MPSF’s top 10 last season with a 0.97 blocks per game average.

The 20-player roster for Grand Canyon next season will be comprised of 16 freshmen and sophomores.

“We will be inexperienced, but dynamic and fun to watch. We look forward to competing in the Grow the Game Challenge,” Werle said.

The Grow the Game Challenge operates as a non-profit organization that is based in Nashville. In addition, the organization is committed to help promoting the growth of college men’s volleyball throughout the United States.