MERCED (1-21) – The NCAA Division III #8 Banana Slugs played their second match of their twenty-nine match roadtrip as they took on NAIA member UC Merced in Merced. The Banana Slugs held the Golden Bobcats to under .115 hitting percentage and won 3-1.
In their last match, the Banana Slugs lost 3-0 to NCAA Division II member UC San Diego in La Jolla on Friday while the Golden Bobcats won 3-1 over NAIA member Menlo College in Atherton on Friday.
In the first set, the two teams traded points for the first fourteen serves. The Banana Slugs would take the lead for good, at 8-7, on a Justin Fortner kill. The Golden Bobcats tied the game at 13-13, on a Jacob Semon kill. The Banana Slugs gained their largest lead of the set at six on two occasions; the second occasion at 24-18 on a Golden Bobcats' attack error. The Banana Slugs won the first set 25-20.
In the second set, the Golden Bobcats would score the first three points of the set and gained their largest lead of the set at 6-2 on a Jacob Shelton kill. From that point, the Banana Slugs went on a 8-3 run, capped by Chris Salas's kill, to give the Banana Slugs a 10-9 lead. The two teams traded points for the next twenty-four serves, but Merced would take the lead for good at 21-20 on a Banana Slugs' attack error. The Golden Bobcats won the second set 25-21 and would tie the match at 1-1.
In the third set, the Banana Slugs took the lead for good in the set at 1-0 on a Raymond Cascio kill. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the set at 22-17 on a Lake Merchen kill. The Golden Bobcats would then go on an 8-3 run including holding off four set points to tie the set at 25-25. The Banana Slugs would gain the final two points of the set on a Merchen kill and an assisted block by Fortner and Merchen to win the third set 29-27 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
In the fourth set, the two teams would trade points for the first twenty serves of the set. The Banana Slugs would take the lead for good, at 11-10, on a Cascio kill. The Banana Slugs gained their largest lead at match point on a Salas kill.
For UC Santa Cruz, Ryan Manley had a career-high sixteen kills and thirteen digs. Cascio had fourteen kills and Merchen had thirteen. Evan Kittle had a match high forty-six assists for UC Santa Cruz and Matthew Pelfini had twenty nine for UC Merced.
For UC Merced, Cole Smith had eighteen kills and Pelfini had a match-high nineteen digs for the Golden Bobcats.
For the match, UC Santa Cruz had a .232 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the first set at .303 while UC Merced had a .112 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the first set at .391. The Banana Slugs had three more blocks (18-15) than did the Golden Bobcats.
The Banana Slugs will have two matches on their next game day on Friday as they take on Marian University at 11 am and Milwaukee School of Engineering at 5 pm at the Kern Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.