SANTA CRUZ (4-3) – UC Santa Cruz played their final home match of the 2018 regular season as they took on NAIA opponent Menlo College at West Field House. The Banana Slugs honored their six seniors – Gino Gamboa, Shad Harris, Cody Hiroto, Evan Kittle, Ryan Manley and Lake Merchen – in a postgame ceremony after defeating the Oaks 3-1.
This match was the third and final match of the season series with the Oaks. Both of the previous matches - January 5th at Kaiser Permanente Arena and February 10th in Atherton - saw the Banana Slugs win 3-0. In their last match, the Banana Slugs won 3-0 over California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks on March 10th while the Oaks lost 3-1 at UC Merced on Thursday.
In the first set, the teams traded points for the first twelve serves. The Banana Slugs took the lead for good, at 12-11, on a kill by Harris and would gain their largest lead of the set at 23-15, on an attack error by the Oaks. The Banana Slugs won the first set 25-23 and took a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second set, the Banana Slugs started the set on a 6-3 spurt capped by a Gamboa kill. The Oaks would tie the match on two occasions; the second occasion at 9-9 on a Brad Sawin kill. The Banana Slugs would gain the lead for good on the next serve on a Harris kill. UCSC would gain their largest lead of the set at three on three occasions; the third occasion at 17-14 on an attack error by the Oaks. After the Oaks tied the set at 17-17, the two teams would trade points for the next twelve serves. The Banana Slugs scored the final two points of the set and won the second set 26-24 and extended their match lead to 2-0.
In the third set, the Oaks would start the set on a 6-3 spurt capped by a service ace. The Oaks would never relinquish the lead in the set. The Banana Slugs would come as close as one, at 19-18, on a service error by the Oaks. The Oaks would score the final six points of the set to win the third set 25-18 and trimmed the Banana Slugs lead in the match to 2-1.
In the fourth set, the Banana Slugs started the set on a 9-4 run capped by a Merchen kill. The Oaks would then go on a 5-0 spurt, capped by an attack error by the Banana Slugs, to tie the set at 9-9. The Banana Slugs would take the lead for good, at 10-9, on an attack error by the Oaks. The Banana Slugs would take their largest lead of the set at nine on three occasions; the third occasion at match point on a service error by the Oaks. The Banana Slugs won the fourth set 25-16. The win marked the Banana Slugs' fifth in a row.
For UC Santa Cruz, Gino Gamboa had eleven kills and for Menlo, Akash Dhothar had a match-high fourteen kills. Shad Harris had eighteen assists for UC Santa Cruz and Trey Lake had a match high thirty-four for Menlo. Merchen led the Banana Slugs with twelve digs and Pedro Almeida had a match high sixteen digs for the Oaks.
For the match, UC Santa Cruz had a .237 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the fourth set at .324 while Menlo had a .168 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the second set at .265. The Banana Slugs had ten more combined blocks (17-7) than did the Oaks.
The Banana Slugs finish up the 2018 regular season as they travel to Southern California to take on NCAA Division II member Concordia University of Irvine on Friday. The first serve is set for 6 pm.