THOUSAND OAKS- Despite finishing with double-digit blocks in both matches, UC Santa Cruz lost a pair of hard-fought matches at to close the 2019 Cal-lu-fornia Invite.
The Banana Slugs go to 4-4 on the season.
Match #1 - Chapman
UC Santa Cruz started strong against the Chapman Panthers but fell 3-1 (25-21, 23-25,25-27, 13-25). The Slugs opened the first set hitting .200 and unleashing seven blocks to go up 1-0. However, Chapman hit .168 the other three sets and held UCSC to .101 to take the match.
Match # 2 - Whittier
In the tournament closer, UCSC put on an entertaining show against Whittier but the Poets outlasted the Banana Slugs to win 3-2 (25-19,18-25, 25-27, 25-20, 16-18).
UCSC again started strong, hitting .314 in Set One to go up 1-0. The Poets rallied to take the next two sets, including a Set Three that had 11 ties and the Banana Slugs rallying from two match points before the Poets finished with a kill and an ace to win 27-25. UCSC came back to take Set Four to tie the match at 2-2, tallying four total blocks to hold Whittier to .021 in the set.
That set up a wild Set Five where UCSC opened with a 10-5 lead to force a Whittier timeout. With UCSC at match point at 14-10 however, Whittier ran off 5 straight points to earn their own match point. UCSC forced two ties, but the Poets eventually survived to take the grueling match.
Maiya Sears had career-highs of 17 kills and five block assists in the loss. Okerlund added 16 kills and 15 digs. Freshman Grace Pessagno had four solo and four assisted blocks while hitting .429 with six kills and no errors. Sinead Beaupain had a career-high 38 assists to go with her 16 digs.
Whittier's Katelyn Popoff led all players with 22 kills.
UC Santa Cruz returns to southern California next weekend to participate in the La Verne Invitational.