GCU Men’s Volleyball Makes NCAA Tournament For The First Time In Program History

The Grand Canyon University Men’s Volleyball team is heading to their first-ever NCAA Tournament following the best season in program history. The Lopes closed out the regular season with 22 wins with 10 of those wins coming against ranked opponents. GCU dominated at home with a 16-3 record and earned one of two at-large bids into the tournament on Sunday night. 


“It’s been emotional to say the least. I’m proud of these guys,” said head coach Matt Werle.

Despite producing the best season record in program history, the team closed out the regular season in a bit of a drought. The Lopes lost five of their final six matches against ranked teams like UCLA and Concordia. The final week of the season was a bye week for the Lopes, giving them an opportunity to work on themselves before heading into the quarter-final match.

“We played some of our best volleyball against Pepperdine in the quarter-final match and we know that we can compete and pursue that National Championship,” Werle said. “It’s a matter of finding that consistency from the first point to the last point and making sure that we’re bought in. The unfamiliarity of the NCAA Tournament because we’ve never been there is exciting.”

This accomplishment is particularly meaningful to the group of guys that are in the midst of their fourth or fifth year on the team. Over the years, they’ve built an infectious team chemistry that is clear to fans when they take the court. For Werle, this senior class is a reflection of his time as head coach. 

“They’ve got a special place in my heart. This is my eighth season now as the head coach and this older group arguably would be my first recruiting class. I was the interim the first season and during that time you don’t know if you’re going to be here or not. So it’s really hard to dive deep into the recruiting trail.”

Outside hitter Christian Janke is one of the bunch that Werle considers a part of his first recruiting class. 

“I’ve played in almost every single game since I was a freshman and the National Championship is the one thing we’ve been building towards. This for a program, for a community and for the legacy we leave behind this is everything I was trying to do to kind of build for that future,” Janke said. 

Janke says that the first match against Pepperdine gave the team the confidence they needed to know they’d earned their spot in the tournament. Heading into their Tuesday matchup against Long Beach State, the Lopes feel prepared having just played their best volleyball. Werle says Long Beach is a program their familiar with having played scrimmages against the program the last two seasons in Las Vegas.

“We’re really familiar with what they’re going to put on the court. They’re a really, really good blocking team, they’re going to keep constant pressure from the service line and I keep telling the team at the end of practice that they’ve been there before,” Werle said.  

Every redshirt senior on the team described the bond of the group in a very similar way. In the words of outside hitter Grayson Browning, “We’re just a bunch of goofy guys that like to play volleyball.”

The No. 5 Lopes will play No. 4 Long Beach State on Tuesday.