ATHERTON (9-30) – The Banana Slugs played their eleventh match in a row away from home as they took on NAIA member Menlo College in Atherton. The Oaks defeated the Banana Slugs 3-1.
This match was a rematch of a match played September 4th in Santa Cruz that the Banana Slugs won 3-0. Both teams won their last match. The Banana Slugs defeated Chapman University 3-1 on Sunday in Riverside while the Oaks defeated Pacific Union College 3-1 on Tuesday in Angwin.
In the first set, the two teams would play back and forth volleyball through the first ten serves. The Oaks would gain the lead, at 6-5, on a Banana Slugs' service error. The Oaks would gain their largest lead of the set at four on two different occasions; the second occasion at 12-8 on a Moea Kekauoha kill. From there, the Banana Slugs would go on an 8-0 run, capped by a service ace, to take the lead for good at 16-12. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the set at ten, at set point, on a Madison Webster kill. The Banana Slugs won the set 25-15 and would take a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second set, the Oaks would start the set on a 5-2 spurt, capped by a Jade Rockwood kill. The closest the Banana Slugs would come would be one, at 6-5, on a service ace. The Oaks would take their largest lead of the set at eleven, at set point, on a service ace. The Oaks won the second set 25-14 and would tie the match at 1-1.
In the third set, the Banana Slugs started the set on a 4-2 spurt capped by a Tatum Novitzky kill. The two-point lead would be their largest lead of the set. The Oaks would then go on a 5-0 spurt, capped by an Oaks' service ace, to take the lead at 7-4. The Oaks took their largest lead of the set at nine, at 23-14, on an assisted block by Emily Sunada and Maggie McDonald. The Oaks won the third set 25-20 and took a 2-1 lead in the match.
In the fourth set, the Oaks started the set on an 8-2 run capped by a Kekauoha kill and kept the lead for the entire set. The closest the Banana Slugs would come would be one, at 10-9, on a service ace. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the set at eight, at 23-15, on a service ace. The Oaks won the fourth set 25-18 and won the match 3-1.
For UC Santa Cruz, Novitzky had fourteen kills and for Menlo, Kekauoha had a match high seventeen kills. Krysti Photias had twenty-four assists for UC Santa Cruz and Jade Rockwood had a match high thirty for Menlo. Monica Lee led the Banana Slugs with a match high thirty-two digs and Sierra Buscher had twenty-seven digs for the Oaks.
For the match, UC Santa Cruz had a .144 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the first set at .324 while Menlo had a .192 hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the second set at .410. The Oaks had seven more kills (52-45) than did the Banana Slugs.
UC Santa Cruz head women's volleyball Josh Davis said, "We knew going in that it would be a tough match. In the first set we stuck to the game plan and played with intent and won convincingly. One of the big things we have been working on in energy and intent, and we knew we needed that as a statement in the second set because Menlo would push back twice as hard. Menlo pushed back, and we didn't have the energy and intent we wanted to. We got on our heels, so to speak. Volleyball is a game of momentum, and we struggled getting it back. Each day and match is better, and these athletes are learning what it means to compete with the highest level teams. There were moments of greatness, and we will look to build off of those. We will also learn from the moments of trial."
The Banana Slugs will have their next match on Friday as they will travel to Southern California to take on University of La Verne at 7 pm in La Verne.