THOUSAND OAKS (3-11)– The NCAA Division III #2 Banana Slugs played their final match of the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational as they took on NCAA Division III #10 Wentworth Institute of Technology. The Leopards topped the Banana Slugs 3-1.
Both teams won their last match. The Banana Slugs won 3-0 over Regis College yesterday in Thousand Oaks while the Leopards won 3-0 over California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks yesterday.
In the first set, the two teams would trade points for the first four serves. The Banana Slugs would take the lead, at 3-2, on a service ace. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the set at three on two separate occasions; the second occasion at 7-4 on a Leopards' attack error. The Leopards would go on a 6-2 spurt, capped by a Banana Slugs' attack error, to take the lead for good at 10-9. The Leopards would gain their largest lead of the set at seven, at 24-17, on a Banana Slugs' attack error. The Leopards won the first set 25-20 and took a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second set, the Banana Slugs would start the set with the first two points of the set. The two point lead was the largest of the set. The Leopards would outscore the Banana Slugs 12-9, capped by a Banana Slugs' attack error, to take the lead for good at 12-11. The Leopards would gain their largest lead of the set at four, at 20-16, on a service ace. The Banana Slugs would tie the set on three occasions; the third occasion at 23-23 on a Jake Howard kill. The Leopards would score the next two points to win the set 25-23 and took a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, the Banana Slugs would start the set on a 7-2 run capped by a Jake Howard kill. The Leopards would go on a 6-1 run, capped by a Banana Slugs' attack error, to tie the set at 8-8. The Banana Slugs would go on a 13-8 run, capped by a Lake Merchen kill, to take their largest lead of the set, at five, at 21-16. The Leopards would respond with a 9-3 run, capped by a Banana Slugs' attack error, to take the lead at 25-24. The Banana Slugs would take the lead back at 27-26 on a service ace. The Banana Slugs won the third set 28-26 and trimmed the Leopards' lead in the match at 2-1.
In the fourth set, the two teams combined for nineteen ties through the course of the set. The largest lead for either team was four by the Banana Slugs, at 21-17, on a Leopards' attack error. After the Banana Slugs took the lead at 32-31 on a Leopards' attack error, the Leopards would score the last three points of the set. The Leopards won the fourth set 34-32 and won the match 3-1.
For UC Santa Cruz, Howard had a match high twenty kills and for Wentworth Tech, Jake Reed had nineteen kills. Ryan McLaughlin had forty-nine assists for UC Santa Cruz to reach 1,100 for his career and pass Evan Kittle for third all-time. Collin Ritter had a match high fifty-six assists for Wentworth Tech. McLaughlin led the Banana Slugs with a match high thirteen digs and Reed had ten digs for the Leopards.
For the match, UC Santa Cruz had a .265 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the first set at .429 while Wentworth Tech had a .310 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the first set at .577. The Leopards had fourteen more blocks (25-11) than did the Banana Slugs.
"This weekend was a true test of our team character as we faced constant challenges. I'm very proud of how the guys handled their own adversities," said head coach Paul Leon. "Despite the final numbers, our players were committed to getting better with each rep and played high level volleyball in the process. Playing competitive opponents that test our strengths and weaknesses always has a positive take-away."
The next match for the Banana Slugs is Friday March 31st as they host the 4th Annual Slug Slam. The Banana Slugs will take on NAIA member Benedictine University (AZ) at 4 pm and California Lutheran University at 7 pm.