THOUSAND OAKS - No. 7 UC Santa Cruz returned to their winning ways and broke a three-game losing streak with a pair of victories Friday at the Cal-Lu-fornia Invitational hosted by Cal Lutheran.
UCSC (23-9) swept Medaille College (25-22, 25-17, 26-24) in the first match before battling for a four-set win over UC Merced (25-23,21-25, 25-21, 25-22) in the nightcap.
After a close first set win against Medaille, UCSC finished off the second set on a 10-5 run with a pair of aces for a 2-0 match lead.
In set three, there were eleven ties between the two squads, the last when the Mavericks' Brazil Thompson's kill staved off match point at 24-all. UCSC however got the last two points needed to end the match.
In the nightcap, UC Merced hit .388 but the Slugs responded with a .403 percentage themselves in the four-set win.
The first set had 18 ties before the Slugs scored the last two points off two Lake Merchen kills for the win. Set two had 13 ties but Merced scored the last four points on UCSC attack errors.
The Slugs righted things in set three, opening up a 5-1 lead. The Bobcats stayed close, and then had a 4-0 run late to take the lead at 20-19. UCSC composed themselves again and finished the set on a 6-1 run to take a 2-1 lead.
UCSC opened set four with kills from Manley and Cascio for a 2-0 lead. However the Bobcats scored the next three points to take the lead. Eight ties followed with neither team gaining more than a two-point lead but the Slugs scored 4 of the last six points to take the set and the match.
Manley had 20 kills. Merchen had 16 kills, and team-highs of 2 aces and 11 digs. Cascio set a new school record with 18 kills in 23 attempts for a .783 hitting percentage, breaking Dane Gilliam's .773 mark in a game against New Paltz in 2005.
Evan Kittle had a season-high 63 assists.
UCSC finishes the Invite on Saturday against Lakeland and the host Kingsmen.