2024 Grand Canyon vs UCLA - MPSF Championship

Grand Canyon Men's Volleyball: What To Know Before MPSF

Grand Canyon Men's Volleyball: What To Know Before MPSF

Here’s a look ahead at what to know about Grand Canyon men’s volleyball ahead of the 2024 MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship.

Apr 17, 2024 by Briar Napier

A 15-year-old program with little prior notable history in the sport is storming its way to national championship contender conversations in college men’s volleyball this season.

Let us at FloVolleyball introduce you to the school that is turning heads left and right in the sport this year, Grand Canyon.

The Lopes have had a meteoric rise up the totem pole since winning just four games 15 years ago outside of the Division I level, making the last eight of the NCAA Tournament last season and being considered the No. 1 team in America earlier on this year. All that hype means little without results, however, but a GCU team that’s heavily experienced and got a taste of the top stage in the sport last season is raring to go for its postseason journey this year.

Nothing’s for certain, but if the GCU men’s volleyball team continues on its current trajectory, there’s going to be a lot of hardware coming back to Phoenix in the near future. 

Here’s a look ahead at what to know about Grand Canyon men’s volleyball as postseason play begins to get underway in men’s volleyball:

What Is the History of Grand Canyon Men’s Volleyball?

One of the newest kids on the block when speaking about the country’s strongest men’s volleyball programs at the moment, Grand Canyon has been fielding a team in the sport since 2009, far later than many of its counterparts in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (which the Lopes joined for men’s volleyball in 2017). The only NCAA men’s volleyball program based in Arizona, Grand Canyon made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection for the first time in its history in 2023, earning a bid to the quarterfinal round before falling to Long Beach State. The Lopes thus far in 2024, however, looked prime for an even deeper run; holding a 22-4 overall record entering postseason play, GCU is currently ranked No. 4 in the latest AVCA/NVA National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Poll released Monday and was ranked as the No. 1 team in the country earlier this season.

How Many National Championships Has Grand Canyon Men’s Volleyball Won?

Grand Canyon has not won a national championship in men’s volleyball, only making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2023. 

Who Coaches Grand Canyon Men’s Volleyball?

Matt Werle — already the winningest coach in GCU men’s volleyball history — was the Lopes’ interim coach for the 2016 season and officially named the head coach later that same year, and new heights in the program have followed since. He led the Lopes to winning seasons in each of his first three years from 2016-18 and in 2021 he led the team to its first conference tournament win and then-highest national ranking ever (No. 6) before the team’s historic 2023 campaign when it won a school-record 22 games and made the national quarterfinals. 

With a postseason win this season, GCU’s team would surpass the school record for wins once again as Werle additionally hopes to take the Lopes to back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament, but the grind to do it when playing in one of the toughest leagues in all of college men’s volleyball is unforgiving. 

Where Does Grand Canyon Men’s Volleyball Play?

Historically having played at the 1,500-capacity Antelope Gymnasium, which opened in 1994 and usually provides a raucous, close-quarters environment for matches, Grand Canyon’s men’s volleyball team still does play at the venue when needed, but has played more frequently recently at the glitzy Global Credit Union Arena, which opened in 2011 in advance of the school’s move to NCAA Division I in 2013 and is additionally the home of the school’s basketball teams. 

UC Irvine head coach David Kniffin called Antelope Gymnasium an “energizing” place to play, and with electric crowds like a record 1,524 who watched the Lopes take on powerhouse UCLA in 2018, it’s easy to see why. 

What League Does Grand Canyon Men’s Volleyball Play In?

Grand Canyon joined on as a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, a league that offers championships in Olympic sports that aren’t directly sponsored by a school’s main conference, in 2017, throwing itself into the fire into the strongest and most accomplished league in collegiate men’s volleyball history. 

The seven-team conference features some of the most decorated programs in the sport such as Pepperdine, USC, and UCLA plus other western-based teams like BYU while being notoriously brutal competition-wise, and while Grand Canyon is still yet to win a MPSF title, the Lopes did finish an impressive second in the regular-season championship race this season behind only UCLA, the bluest of the blue bloods in the sport. 

Grand Canyon Men’s Volleyball Notable Alumni

There’s an argument to be made that some of the greatest players in the Grand Canyon men’s volleyball team’s short history are still playing right now. The Lopes have never had as successful of a run in the sport as what they’re going through at the moment, so if you want to see greatness and history in the making in GCU men’s volleyball, you don’t have to look very far. 

One example is redshirt senior opposite Camden Gianni, who was an AVCA All-American Honorable Mention a season ago and played with Team USA in the summer at a pair of international tournaments, as he’s kept up the pace in his final collegiate season this year by leading GCU in kills (290) heading into the conference tournament. Redshirt senior outside hitter and Phoenix native Jackson Hickman was additionally named a second-team AVCA All-American last season and is right behind Gianni in kills (276) this time around, while the duo is being assisted most frequently by one of the best setters in the country in redshirt junior Nicholas Slight (10.43 assists per set, third nationally). 

Keep an eye out for all three to make some end-of-year accolade lists; they’re bound to be program legends and notable alumni soon enough. 

How to Watch Grand Canyon Men’s Volleyball

You can watch the start of Grand Canyon’s postseason charge during the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Men’s Volleyball Championship, which will be streamed live and exclusively in its entirety on FloVolleyball from Wednesday to Saturday. No. 2-seeded GCU will face No. 7-seeded Concordia Irvine at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday on the USC campus. 

How To Watch MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship 2024

Watch the 2024 MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship Tournament on FloVolleyball and the FloSports app.

What Teams Are In The MPSF Men's Volleyball Tournament?

  1. UCLA
  2. Grand Canyon
  3. BYU
  4. Stanford
  5. Pepperdine
  6. USC
  7. Concordia

MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship 2024 Schedule And Bracket

Here's the tournament schedule:

MPSF Men's Volleyball Quarterfinals: Wednesday, April 17 

MPSF Men's Volleyball Semifinals: Thursday, April 18

MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship: Saturday, April 20

Men's Volleyball Rankings On April 15: AVCA Coaches Poll

RankSchoolTotal Points AdjustedRecordPrevious Week
1UCLA [13]45022-42
2Long Beach State [10]44523-21
3UC Irvine40418-94
4Grand Canyon39922-43
8Penn State28521-68
10Ball State24821-911
11Ohio State23520-810
12Loyola Chicago21919-912
15George Mason12417-916
20UC San Diego3712-14NR

Men's Volleyball RPI On April 15

2Grand CanyonMPSF22-4
3Long Beach St.Big West23-2
4UC IrvineBig West18-9
5Penn St.EIVA21-6
6Ohio St.MIVA20-8
8HawaiiBig West22-6
11Loyola ChicagoMIVA19-9
12Ball St.MIVA18-9
13Saint Francis (PA)NEC20-8
14George MasonEIVA17-9
15Purdue Fort WayneMIVA14-12
19UC San DiegoBig West11-14
22Lincoln MemorialDI Independent21-5
24CSUNBig West9-14
25UC Santa BarbaraBig West8-17

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