IRVINE, CA -- UC Santa Cruz played in their first match of the Asics/Wyndham Hotel Spring Classic this morning as they took on NAIA opponent Warner University. The Banana Slugs and the Royals played to extra points in three of the sets as the Banana Slugs squeaked out a 3-2 victory over the Royals.
Both teams were coming off victories in their last match. The Banana Slugs defeated Lakeland College 3-0 on Wednesday night in Santa Cruz and the Royals defeated Cincinnati Christian University 3-0 in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 28th.
In the first set, the two teams would play back and forth with neither team gaining a larger lead than three. The Banana Slugs' largest lead of the set was three on two occasions; the second occasion coming on a Banana Slugs' service ace to make the score 10-7. The Royals would then outscore the Banana Slugs 12-9 to tie the set at 19-19 and then would take the lead at 20-19 on a Banana Slugs' attack error. The Royals' would have their largest lead at three on two occasions; the second occasion coming at 24-21 on a Banana Slugs' attack error. The Banana Slugs fought their way back into the set, tying the set at 24-24 on a Jake Landel kill. However, the Royals would score the final two points of the set on two Banana Slugs errors. The Royals won the first set 26-24 and led the match 1-0.
In the second set, the Royals jumped out to a 4-2 lead. Two was the largest lead of the set for the Royals as they gained a lead of two on two other occasions in the set. The Banana Slugs would claw their way back into the set and would take a two point lead, at 6-4, after two Royals' errors. The two teams would trade the lead back and forth. After the Banana Slugs tied the set at 16-16 on a Royals' service error, the Royals would take a two point lead, at 18-16, after a Banana Slugs' service error and a Martin Krueger kill. From there, the Banana Slugs would take the lead for good using a 6-0 run, capped by a Brandon Torado kill, to make the score 22-18. Although the Royals would outscore the Banana Slugs 5-3 over the remainder of the set, the Banana Slugs won the second set 25-23 and tied the match at 1-1.
The third set provided more of the same drama that the first and seconds set provided. The largest lead for either team was three and that lead belonged to the Royals at 10-7 on a Joshua Jordan kill. After the Royals gained a 25-24 lead on a Dylan Sechrest kill, the Banana Slugs scored the last three points of the set on a kill by Jake Howard and two attack errors by the Royals. The Banana Slugs won the third set 27-25 and led the match 2-1.
In the fourth set, the Banana Slugs would jump out to a 3-1 lead on the back of two Jorge Reyes kills. The Royals would then go on a 7-2 run, capped by a Sechrest kill, to make the score 8-5. The Royals' three point lead was the largest of the set. The Banana Slugs would respond with a 7-1 run, capped by a Landel kill, to make the score 12-9. The 12-9 advantage was also the largest advantage of the set for the Banana Slugs. After the Banana Slugs tied the match at 26-26 on a Royals' attack error, the Royals scored the final two points of the set on a Gonzalo Fernandez kill and a Banana Slugs' attack error. The Royals won the fourth set 28-26 and tied the match at 2-2.
In the fifth set, the two teams played back and forth for the first ten serves for the set. With the match tied at 5-5, the Banana Slugs would score the next three points for an 8-5 lead that they would not relinquish. The Royals would come as close as one on three occasions; the third occasion coming at 14-13 on a Sechrest kill. The Banana Slugs would score the match point on a Royals' attack error. The Banana Slugs won the fifth set 15-13 and won the match 3-2.
For UC Santa Cruz, Landel had sixteen kills and for Warner, Jordan had a match high nineteen kills. Evan Kittle had forty three assists for UC Santa Cruz and Martin Krueger had a match high forty five for Warner. Jake Howard led the Banana Slugs with fourteen digs and Hui Ding had a match high nineteen digs for the Royals.
For the match, UC Santa Cruz had a .201 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the fifth set at .318 while Warner had a .221 hitting percentage with the third set having the best percentage at .323. The Banana Slugs had seven more service aces (11-4) than did the Royals.
The Banana Slugs will have their next match later tonight as they take on Clarke University (IA) at 7 pm in Irvine.