In a two-hour match, UC Santa Cruz had their four-game winning streak broken in a hard-fought 3-1 (33-31, 16-25, 20-25, 22-25) loss to NAIA rival Hope International.
UCSC falls to 9-3 while Hope improved to 5-7.
The first set was a battle that went back and forth. Three-straight blocks by Raymond Cascio and Riley Rutan gave the Slugs a 22-20 lead. However, Hope fought back to tie it at 23. The game stayed tied for the eight points until Rutan's kill gave UCSC game one at 33-31.
The second set started with Hope ppening a 5-0 lead, and forcing UCSC to call time out when it was 9-2. The Slugs slowly fought back and cut it to a four-point deficit at 13-17. Hope then finished the set with a 8-3 run.
The third set opened with Ryan McLaughlin's ace, but Hope then followed with a 4-0 run. Th Slugs fought back and tied it at 11 with another McLaughlin ace. UCSC couldn't overtake the Royals the rest of the set and Hope went up 2-1.
The final set was also a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to get a huge lead. When hope went up 17-14, UCSC responded with consecutive blocks to cut it to 1 but couldn't regain the lead.
Jake Howard had 18 kills to lead the Slugs. Rutan and Lake Merchen added 11 kills each. Mclaughlin had a career-high 48 assists.
Zach Green and Kevin Maguire-Baran led the Royals with 14 kills each. UCSC hit .169 for the game to Hope's .170 and had sixteen blocks, but were plagued by 19 service errors.
The Slugs play Santa Barbara City College in the West Field House on Saturday to prep for a tournament at Cal Lutheran next weekend.