by Warren Brannoch
Glendale Community College Gauchos (GCC) volleyball program has always had a rich tradition of repeating as Regional Champions, and Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) Champions, but when reaching the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament, have always come up just short. Glendale head coach, Lisa Stuck has been with the program through the last 18 seasons, guiding the team to the national tournament nine times. Just last season, the Gauchos finished in third place at the national tournament, which just like on two other occasions, was also the highest they have ever finished a season.
Coming into the regional tournament this year, GCC was the # 4 seed, and had the worst record (14-13) of the three other teams in the bracket for Division II. In their first match vs. #1 seed South Mountain, Glendale easily beat the Cougars in three straight sets. In the second round of the tournament, GCC would have to face off against Scottsdale, eventually defeating the Artichokes (3-2). In the finals of the regional tournament, Glendale would face off against Pima Community College, and only need one victory to advance to the national tournament, and repeat as Division II Region I Champions. The Gauchos would eventually repeat as tournament champions, guiding them to their second straight national tournament appearance, as the 10 seed.
With the national tournament being held only about 20 miles from campus, at Phoenix Community College, the Gauchos would look to feed off of their home court advantage to propel them to their first national title. In the first round, Glendale would sweep through Kansas City College (3-0), led by Sophomore Kourtney Beck, with 17 kills in the match. In the second round, Glendale would have to face the #2 seeded, Central College (OH). The Gauchos would struggle out of the gates, losing the first set, 25-15, before forcing a fifth and final set, eventually winning (3-2), and advancing to a tough semi-final matchup against defending National Champion, and #6 seed Cowley County Community College (KS). Each of these sets were very competitive, and close, but an underdog Glendale team, would not give up, even when they were down by two sets, eventually winning (28-20,24-26,25-19,27-25,20-18) giving the team a chance to bring Glendale Community College, its first ever Volleyball national title. In the final matchup of the year, the Gauchos would have to face off against defending national runner-up, Parkland College (IL). The Parkland Cobras came into the match as the #1 overall seed, had a record of (52-2), and an astounding 25 game winning streak on the line. Once again, Glendale would fall behind (2-0), leaving the Cobras, one set away from winning the national title. In the third set, Glendale would gain the advantage, and never look back, eventually defeating Parkland, and winning the national title (3-2) in front of a packed gym of Gaucho supporters.
The title would cap off a remarkable run through the playoffs, marking what was one of Glendale’s most memorable seasons ever. GCC Sophomore outside hitter, Kourtney Beck earned the tournaments Most Valuable Player, and Coach Lisa Stuck earned Coach of the Year awards.
Congratulations to Coach Stuck, her assistants Brittany Muchmore-Rhoads, and Nick Giatroudakis, and all of the players.