SAN FRANCISCO - UC Santa Cruz stayed close with Division II Academy of Art University, but could not withstand the Urban Knights clutch hitting in a 3-1 defeat (23-25,25-14, 23-25,21-25) Wednesday night at Kezar Pavilion.
UCSC goes to 3-9 on the year while Academy of Art goes to 3-8.
The first set began evenly as UCSC took a 17-14 lead from Jordan Kirchner's kill, but Art U came back and tied it at 18. After trading the next five points, Art U ended the set taking the last two points.
UCSC opened with a 4-0 run in the second set and built their lead to 13-7 forcing the Knights to take a timeout.
With the game at 15-10, UCSC finished on a 10-4 run. The highlight was at set point with Monica Lee and Hailey McDaniel keeping the point alive with a deep dig and over that forced a bad set by Art U that let UCSC win the set 25-14 and tie the match.
The third set was again evenly matched -ten ties in the first eleven points. The Slugs took a 4-point lead at 20-16 punctuated by Tatum Novitzky's kill that forced a Knights' timeout. The pep talk seemed to work as the hosts tied it with a 4-0 run that forced UCSC to call time out.
The teams traded points again, but at 23-all, the Knights took the set with a UCSC attack error and a Bailey Soolsma kill.
In set four however, UCSC opened with five attack errors, gifting the Knights an 8-4 lead and forcing a timeout. UCSC got to within 1 at 9-8 but Art U went on an 8-4 run again to build the lead back to 5 (17-12). UCSC got within two again at 23-21, but once again the hosts were able to get the last two points for set and match point.
The Slugs hit .179 in the match. Claire Okerlund led the way with 10 kills, while Novitsky, Kallan Bedard and Alexandria Everett each had nine. Lee (23) and Novitzky(14) combined for 39 of UCSC's 75 digs.
The Knights hit .198 and had 17 kills from both Soolsma and Kimiah Johnson.
UCSC hits the road for a return to Division III competition this weekend with games at Chapman and Redlands.