THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - On the first day of the CLU/UCSC Invitational, the Cal Lutheran men's volleyball team started strong with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-16) sweep over San Diego City College before falling to No. 7 UC Santa Cruz 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 28-26).
CLU def. SDCC 3-0
In the first match of the afternoon, the Kingsmen were firing on all cylinders finishing with a team hitting percentage of .364. In the first set, CLU battled back-and-forth with the Knights until they gained a slight 12-8 edge. From that point, the Violet and Gold scored five unanswered points, highlighted by a pair of service aces from Hunter Horn, to take a commanding 17-8 lead. A handful of attacking errors from SDCC capped off the first set 25-15 for CLU.
The second set followed a similar format, with the Kingsmen up 13-8 midway through before a 6-1 run put them out of the Knight's reach. Michael Campbell came up big with a pair of kills down the stretch and CLU captured the set with an identical 25-15 score.
After hitting .333 as a team in the first set, the Kingsmen improved as the match went on, hitting .368 in the second and .381 in the third to win the set 25-16 and clinch the sweep. CLU totaled 29 kills on 55 attacks and only had nine errors.
Horn led the way with eight kills and Nicholas Oertli tallied seven kills with a .600 percentage. Campbell hit .667 with five kills on six attacks. Keaton Arutian had a strong all-around performance with 24 assists, three kills and three digs while Jamal Balkhi led the team with seven digs. Schaun Billing made his CLU debut in the match.
SDCC was led by Lucas Timm who finished with a game-high 11 kills.
In a thrilling first set, UC Santa Cruz and CLU battled through many long rallies, but it was the Banana Slugs who pulled away late to capture the set, 25-22. UCSC jumped out to a 4-1 early lead, but the Kingsmen responded with five of the next seven points behind a pair of kills from Campbell to tie the game at 6-6. Both teams would trade points until the score was tied at 16-16, but after a 5-1 run, the Banana Slugs put the set out of reach.
In the second set, UCSC carried its momentum over from the first set and jumped out to a big 21-10 lead. Refusing to go down without a fight, the Violet and Gold rallied for eight of the next 10 points to bring the score to 23-18. Service aces from Jordan Castro and Arutian along with a pair of kills from Horn fired up the crowd, but the Banana Slugs took the next two points for a 25-18 set win.
In the third and most exciting set of the day, the Kingsmen made it interesting but UC Santa Cruz held on for a 28-26 win and the sweep along with it.
Castro led the way with a game-high 12 kills for CLU while Horn and Kristian Gallardo tallied five apiece. Balkhi finished with a team-high 11 digs and Arutian totaled 22 assists.
Jake Howard led the Banana Slugs with 11 kills.
Cal Lutheran (2-12) continues tournament action tomorrow against Benedictine-Mesa at 1:00 p.m. and No. 13 Elmira at 3:30 p.m.
Tournament Website: CLU/UCSC Invitational
Box Score: CLU 3, SDCC 0
Box Score: UCSC 3, CLU 0
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