SANTA CRUZ - UC Santa Cruz dropped the first set to Cal Lutheran before rallying to defeat the Kingsmen 3-1 (19-25,25-15, 25-18, 25-9) on the first day of Slug Slam.
UCSC (4-0) hit .268 overall in the match. Cal Lutheran hit just .092 and dropped to 0-2.
Cal Lutheran took a 3-0 lead in the opening game and never trailed to take a surprise lead in the match. UCSC found their focus in game two, opening with a quick 4-0 lead. The Kingsmen rallied and came close at 5-4 and 13-10, but UCSC finished on a 12-5 run to tie the match at 1.
The third set was close until UCSC went on a 7-0 run after it was tied at six-all for a 13-6 lead, helped by two blocks and a Cody Hiroto ace, and won the set 25-18.
UCSC was up 6-4 in the fourth set, but ended the match on a 19-6 run that was started by a pair of Lake Merchen aces and ended by two kills and a block by the All-American.
Merchen hit .476 with 11 kills for the match and had team-highs of 9 digs and 4 aces as well as 2.5 blocks. Raymond Cascio and Ryan Manley each had 7 kills. Evan Kittle had a balanced game with 35 assists to go with 4 kills, a solo block and assisting on six other roofs.
UCSC hosts day two of the Slug Slam with games against Illinois Tech at 1pm and Stevenson at 7.