SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The final weekend of competition for the Cal Lutheran men's volleyball team pitted the Kingsmen against No. 6 UC Santa Cruz for a pair of matches as well as a single match against Benedictine-Mesa at the UC Santa Cruz Slug Fest Tournament.
No stranger to either team, CLU fell 3-1 on Friday night to the Banana Slugs before earning its sixth win of the season with a 3-2 victory over Benedictine-Mesa on Saturday. The Violet and Gold rounded out tournament action with a 3-0 loss to UC Santa Cruz.
UCSC def. CLU 3-1 (25-14, 25-17, 20-25, 25-16)
In the first weekend match against UC Santa Cruz, the Kingsmen got off to a slow start, falling behind 2-0 before rallying for a win in the third set. The Banana Slugs were efficient all match, hitting .376 as a team while CLU hit just .117. The lengthy UCSC team also stifled the Kingsmen at the net, totaling 22 blocks compared to just six for CLU.
Patrick Rowe continued his stellar freshman campaign with a game-high 11 kills while Mason Mercer finished with seven. Nick Shoemate racked up 26 assists to go along with seven digs while Kristian Gallardo led the team with eight digs. Michael Campbell logged three block assists.
CLU def. BU 3-2 (15-25, 25-21, 39-41, 25-16, 23-21)
One of the highlight wins of the season for the Kingsmen came against Benedictine-Mesa on Saturday, as CLU outlasted the Redhawks in a battle for the ages. After splitting the first two sets, the teams would trade points until the Redhawks pulled out an incredible third set with a score of 41-39. Down two sets to one, the Kingsmen would rally back to force a fifth set which saw another intense back-and-forth battle that went in favor of CLU 23-21.
Rowe finished with a career-high 19 kills on 54 attacks and Gallardo added 17 kills. Mercer and Campbell each tallied 13 kills apiece as four Kingsmen notched double figures. Shoemate set a career-high with 64 assists in the marathon match and Balkhi tallied 17 digs.
UCSC def. CLU 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 29-27)
In the final match of the weekend, the Kingsmen squared off against the Banana Slugs for the third time this season. UCSC took the first two sets handily before scraping past CLU 29-27 in the third to complete the sweep.
Rowe led the way once again offensively with 12 kills and Mikey Esper finished with six. Alec Bennett played in all three sets and led the team with eight digs. Grant Nelson tallied 13 assists and Shoemate recorded 12.
Cal Lutheran (6-18) will conclude its season this Tuesday, Apr. 4 against Moorpark College inside Gilbert Arena at 6:00 p.m. for Senior Night.
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