KENOSHA, WI - Raymond Cascio had 21 kills, including the emphatic match point, to lead UC Santa Cruz past No. 15 Fontbonne 3-1 (25-17, 25-21, 17-25, 25-17) and put the Banana Slugs in the Division III Final Four.
The Banana Slugs will play Stevens Institute of Technology next Friday 3:30pm Pacific in Union, NJ in their first National Semifinal since 2012. A campus watch party will be held at the Red Room in Rachel Carson College, across from the West Field House.
UCSC won their eighth consecutive match to improve to 20-16, their second 20-win season in a row. The Griffins had their nine-game winning streak halted and finished their record-setting season at 26-3.
The Banana Slugs outhit Fontbonne .220 to .049 for the match. UCSC actually held the Griffins to .000 in the first set and .085 after two sets to take a 2-0 lead. However, the Griffins rallied to take the third after delivering the first three of their four aces on the evening while the Banana Slugs committed six attack errors and five errors serving.
The Slugs however found their form again in the fourth set. With the Griffins within two at 18-16, the Slugs finished the match on a 7-1 run to book their ticket to New Jersey.
"I think in those moments, we take to heart this is our one opportunity," said Sam Wittert about the turnaround from sets three to four. "So you have to give it your all."
Wittert had 41 assists, and Cascio went over the 500-kill mark for this season. Kyle Donohoe added 9 kills and 9 digs. The Banana Slugs tallied a season-high 17 blocks, led by freshman Jacob Shapiro who had four solo and four assisted. Max Garris had a season-high and NCAA Tournament record 19 digs.