SANTA CRUZ (1-16) – The Banana Slugs hosted the defending NCAA Division III national champions and current NCAA Division III #2 SUNY New Paltz at West Field House in front of a raucous crowd. The nip and tuck battle was won by the Hawks 3-2.
In their last match, the Banana Slugs swept NCAA Division III #8 Vassar College 3-0 in Santa Cruz on Saturday. The Hawks were coming off a 33-2 season in 2016 which culminated with a 3-1 win over Springfield College in Rochester in the 2016 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball National Championship match.
In the first set, the Hawks would lead wire-to-wire. The Hawks would score the first two points of the set – one on a Banana Slugs' attack error and one on an Anthony Bonilla kill. The closest the Banana Slugs would come would be one on four occasions; the fourth occasion was at 5-4 on a Hawks' attack error. The Hawks would gain their largest lead of the set at nine, at 18-9, on a Banana Slugs' attack error. The Hawks would win the first set 25-18 and took a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second set, the two teams would trade points, and the lead, back and forth. Both teams would gain their largest lead of the set at three. The Banana Slugs would gain their three point lead at 14-11 on a Jake Howard kill and the Hawks would gain their three point lead at 22-19 on a Bonilla kill. The Banana Slugs would end the set on a 6-1 spurt, capped by a Howard kill at set point, to give the Banana Slugs the 25-23 second set win. The set win by the Banana Slugs tied the match at 1-1.
In the third set, the Banana Slugs started the set with the first two points – one on a Hawks' attack error and one on a kill by Lake Merchen. The two point was the largest of the set for the Banana Slugs and matched twice more; the second occurrence was at 5-3 on a Howard kill. The Hawks would claw their way back into the set and would take the lead for good at 6-5 on a Banana Slugs' attack error. The closest the Banana Slugs would come would be a tie on four different occasion; the fourth occasion at 20-20 on a Howard kill. The Hawks would score the next five points and would win the third set 25-20 and took a 2-1 advantage in the match.
The fourth set belonged to the Banana Slugs. After the first four serves were played with both teams trading points, the Banana Slugs would take the lead for good at 3-2 on a Lake Merchen kill. The Banana Slugs would take a double digit lead, at 23-13, on a Hawks' attack error. The Banana Slugs won the fourth set 25-14 and sent the match to a decisive fifth set tied at 2-2.
In the fifth set, the Hawks would control the tempo. The Hawks jumped out with the first two points of the set – one on a Banana Slugs' attack error and one on a Bonilla kill. The Banana Slugs would tie the set at 2-2 on a bad set by the Hawks. On the ensuing serve, the Hawks would take the lead, at 3-2, on a Bonilla kill. The Hawks would gain their largest lead of the set at six on three occasions; the third occasion was at match point on a Banana Slugs' attack error. The Hawks won the fifth set 15-9 and won the match 3-2. The loss dropped the Banana Slugs to 1-1 on the season.
For UC Santa Cruz, Howard had a match high twenty kills and for SUNY New Paltz, Bonilla had eighteen kills. Ryan McLaughlin had a match high forty seven assists for UC Santa Cruz and Mitchell Kennedy had twenty eight for SUNY New Paltz. Gino Gamboa led the Banana Slugs with a match high ten digs and Robert Nolan had nine digs for the Hawks.
For the match, UC Santa Cruz had a .220 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the fourth set at .750 while SUNY New Paltz had a .368 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the third set at .536. The Hawks had fifteen fewer errors (27-12) than did the Banana Slugs.
The Banana Slugs will now depart on a nine-week, fifteen match road trip. The next match for the Banana Slugs is Friday as they take on NCAA Division III #11 Rutgers University-Newark at 1 pm in Newark.