Grand Canyon to play 6 matches in GCU Arena in 2020

Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon Athletics

Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor

Historically, Grand Canyon has played its matches in Antelope Gymnasium, where opponents will attest the Lopes have a solid home-court advantage. In 2020, Grand Canyon will play six of its 14 home matches at GCU Arena. GCU Arena holds 5,500 more fans and is 17 years newer than Antelope Gymnasium.

The Lopes will play five of their six home conference matches in GCU Arena as well as a match versus UC San Diego.

Grand Canyon will start its 2020 campaign at the Rainbow Warrior Classic on the second weekend of January. They will play Harvard, Emmanuel, and host Hawai’i in consecutive nights. The Lopes have had quite the pipeline of talent coming from the state of Hawai’i, current libero Avery Enriques, and alumni Puna Kuniho (2018), Cullen Mosher (2018), and Sky Engleman (2018).

The Lopes will have a significant say in who finishes atop of the Division II Coaches Poll in 2020 as a quarter of their matches will be against Division II schools. Three of those matches will be against MIVA schools in late January at the Lindenwood Invitational.

Lindenwood and Grand Canyon have played 16 matches in their history, with the Lopes having won nine of them. The Lopes have won the last six matches in this series, with three of those being in St. Charles, Missouri.

The big loss for Lindenwood is that of the graduation of middle attacker Connor Hipelius (All–MIVA Second Team). Hipelius led the Lions with 1.06 blocks per game, 2.02 kills per game, and a .390 attack percentage.

Returning for the Lions are a pair of 2019 MIVA All–Freshman Team selections in outside attackers Diego Negron and Phil Swartz. The two schools also have a familial connection as Lindenwood sophomore setter Brian Schwob is the brother of Grand Canyon alum, Will Schwob.

Grand Canyon will also play five NAIA schools in 2020, including matches versus neighbors, Benedictine and Ottawa. Also on the schedule is a match versus Vanguard, a first-year program started by former Concordia-Irvine player and Pepperdine assistant coach Brad Rostratter.  

Rounding out the schedule is a home-and-home series with UC Irvine and a Spring Break trip to play the New Jersey schools – NJIT and Princeton.

The key losses for Grand Canyon from the 2019 team are starting middle attacker Alex Shmelev and opposite Will Schwob. The Lopes were No. 2 in the MPSF in blocks per game, led by Shmelev’s team-leading 1.019 blocks per game. Grand Canyon ranked No. 1 in the conference with a 0.250 opponent attack percentage.

Outside attacker Christian Janke and libero Cole Udall were named to the 2019 MPSF All-Freshman Team. Janke led the team in both aces per game and attack percentage, while Udall led the team in digs per game.

2020 Grand Canyon Men’s Volleyball Schedule

Thursday, Jan. 9 vs. Harvard (Neutral Site)
Friday, Jan. 10 vs. Emmanuel (Neutral Site)
Saturday, Jan. 11 at Hawai’i
Friday, Jan. 17 vs. Park
Saturday, Jan. 18 vs. UC San Diego (GCU Arena)
Friday, Jan. 24 vs. McKendree (Neutral Site)
Saturday, Jan. 25 at Lindenwood
Sunday, Jan. 26 vs. Quincy (Neutral Site)
Wednesday, Jan. 29 vs. Benedictine
Saturday, Feb. 1 vs. Stanford
Saturday, Feb. 8 at USC          
Friday, Feb. 14 vs. BYU (GCU Arena)
Saturday, Feb. 15 vs. Ottawa
Friday, Feb. 21 vs. UCLA (GCU Arena)
Sunday, Feb. 23 vs. Pepperdine (GCU Arena)
Thursday, Feb. 27 at Concordia-Irvine
Friday, Feb. 28 at UC Irvine
Friday, March 6 vs. Vanguard
Friday, March 6 vs. North Greenville
Saturday, March 7 vs. Menlo
Saturday, March 7 vs. UC Irvine        
Friday, March 13 at NJIT
Saturday, March 14 at Princeton         
Friday, March 27 at Pepperdine
Saturday, March 28 at UCLA
Thursday, April 2 at BYU
Saturday, April 4 at Stanford
Thursday, April 9 vs. USC (GCU Arena)
Saturday, April 11 vs. Concordia-Irvine (GCU Arena)