SANTA CRUZ - UC Santa Cruz ran their record to 3-0 with a pair of hard-fought Saturday wins in the Redwood Invitational.
The eighth-ranked Banana Slugs beat Ottawa University Arizona 25-21, 25-18,25-20 in the afternoon before sweeping St. Katherine 25-12, 25-13, 25-13 in the nightcap.
"I am very pleased with how we played this weekend at the Redwood Invitational," said head coach Paul Leon. "This is a strong start to a long season. We tried many different lineups and were able to truly see the depth of our roster in playing most of our squad."
Against Ottawa, the first set had 9 ties before the Slugs scored the last four points to take the game. The second set was also tough, with three ties before UCSC went on a 5-0 run for a 13-8 lead. A 4-0 Ottawa run cut the lead to 1 before UCSC finished the game on a 12-5 run. After eight ties in the third, a 4-0 run by the Slugs gave them a 17-13 lead. Ottawa rallied to get to within 201-8 before UCSC finished the match on a 5-2 run.
In the nightcap against St. Katherine, the visitors opened the first set with a 7-3 lead with all of UCSC's points coming on service errors by the Firebirds. UCSC eventually found their groove and went on an 11-2 run to take control, hitting .273 in a set they won 25-12. The second game was close again until the hosts took control and finished on a 14-4 run.
The difference in the final set was UCSC's six blocks, including three straight to take the lead in a close game. St. Katherine hit only -.217 in the last frame and -.105 for the match.
"My excitement for the potential of this season has only grown," Leon said. "We played disciplined defense, controlled a fluid offense and provided high energy all weekend."
REDWOOD INVITATIONAL All-TOURNAMENT TEAM
OPP Alex Buffini- St. Katherine
OH Quentin Campbell- Ottawa,AZ
L Joaquin Santa Cruz- Ottawa, AZ
OH Akash Dhotar- Menlo
S Evan Kittle- UCSC
MB Raymond Cascio- UCSC
OH Lake Merchen- UCSC