Two former conference rivals will face each in the inaugural Clash of the Nashville Thai Massage Twisted Knot.
Off the Block announced Tuesday that No. 14 Grand Canyon and Lindenwood will play each other in the trophy game on 8 p.m. Jan. 19 in Lebanon, Tennessee as part of the Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge presented by MotorMVB.
While trophy games are uncommon in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball, they are used on other college sports such as football to hype up games and emerging rivalries. This trophy game concept is being utilized for the Grow the Game Challenge as a way to spotlight certain matches during the three-day non-conference tournament.
Both Grand Canyon and Lindenwood were members of the MIVA before the Antelopes departed the Midwest conference at the end of the 2017 season to join the MPSF. One of the primary benefits for Grand Canyon switching leagues was moving to conference with schools located at a closer proximity.
Grand Canyon during its inaugural season in the MPSF finished in fifth place and for the first time in program history was ranked in the national coaches poll every week throughout the entire season.
The Antelopes also in non-conference play defeated the Lions in a fifth-game overtime.
With that win, Grand Canyon enters the Clash of the Nashville Thai Massage Twisted Knot leading the all-time series against Lindenwood at 8-7.
Lindenwood concluded the 2018 regular season at No. 5 in the Division II National Coaches Poll and advanced to the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals. In addition, the Lions throughout last season nearly pulled off multiple upsets — losing five matches in decisive fifth games against teams ranked in the Division I-II national coaches poll.
The Clash of the Nashville Thai Massage Twisted Knot will feature two of the top middle attackers in the nation.
Lindenwood middle attacker Connor Hipelius, a Preseason All-MIVA selection, ended last season in the nation’s top 10 with both a 1.16 blocks per game average and a .387 attack percentage. Grand Canyon middle attacker Caleb Blazer was among the national leaders with a 0.97 blocks per game average last season and had a .360 attack percentage.
Both players were named to the preseason watch list for the Ryan Millar Award, which is presented to the top middle attacker in college men’s volleyball.
Nashville Thai Massage offers customized private sessions and uses a variety of Thai massage forms to help promote therapeutic healing and overall well-being. Along with individual sessions, Nashville Thai Massage provides classes ranging from introduction to Thai massage to 40-hour intensive Thai training.
The Grow the Game Challenge will take place Jan. 18-20 at Cumberland University. With a 10-team field, it will be the largest college men’s volleyball non-conference tournament during the upcoming season.
The match result of the Clash of the Nashville Thai Massage Twisted Knot, along all other 12 tournament matches, will count towards determining the overall tournament champion of the Grow the Game Challenge.