THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — On the last day of the Third Annual Cal Lu Fornia Classic, the Cal Lutheran men's volleyball team dropped a five-set thriller to UC Merced before falling to the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs inside Gilbert Arena.
Against the UC Merced Bobcats, the Kingsmen came out on fire and hit .432 in the first set. With the score tied at 8, Michael Campbell and Andrew Reina hammered down back-to-back kills. Brendan Ward had a huge solo block which was followed by another kill by Reina, giving CLU a 12-8 lead. They went on to win the first set 25-20. UC Merced battled back in the second set, winning 26-24.
In the third set, CLU opened with a 10-6 lead. Merced, cut the lead to three making it 14-11, but the Kingsmen were there for the answer. Ward and Reina both added a kill while the Bobcats errored twice to help the Violet and Gold take over, 18-11. CLU held on to win the third set 25-19. UC Merced pushed it to a fifth set as they won the fourth 25-23.
In the fifth and final set against UC Merced, it was the Bobcats that had the early lead. The Kingsmen eventually tied the set at 5 all. With the score tied at 7, UC Merced scored three straight points and took the lead. The Kingsmen couldn't close the gap as the Bobcats won the fifth set 15-10.
Reina led the Kingsmen with 13 kills, averaging a high .476 hitting percentage. Justin Dietrich was close behind with 11 kills, hitting at .400, and added eight total blocks. Alec Bennett and Grant Nelson tallied eight digs each, while Nelson also added a high 49 assists.
In the second and final game of the night, the Kingsmen squared off against UC Santa Cruz and put up a fight in each set before falling 3-0.
Cal Lutheran came out swinging in the first as Ward started the Kingsmen off with a huge kill on the right-side. With the Slugs leading 13-8, freshman Marc Quezada came off the bench to go on a 4 point service run, helping CLU comeback 12-13. The Kingsmen battled but Santa Cruz took the first set 25-22.
In the second, UC Santa Cruz took a quick 4-1 lead. With the score tied at 11 all, Quezada, with the help of Patrick Rowe, allowed the Kingsmen to take their first lead of the match. After a service error and few unforced errors by Cal Lutheran, the Banana Slugs were able to take the second set 27-25.
The Kingsmen and the Slugs battled back and forth in the third set. After a timeout called by Cal Lutheran, Reina slammed down a kill from the outside which was followed by a kill out of the middle by Campbell to help the Kingsmen trail 10-11. The Banana Slugs, however, sided-out quickly, not allowing Cal Lutheran to go on any more runs or comeback. Ultimately, UC Santa Cruz clinched the set and match for the sweep.
The Violet and Gold saw one of the best performances of the season from Ward, who tallied a team high nine kills and hit at .300. Rowe was close behind with eight kills while Reina added seven. Nelson racked up 32 assists and both Reina and Ward led defensively with eight digs apiece.
Cal Lutheran (12-6) will see the court again in their next match against Benedictine (Ill.) on Tuesday, Mar. 20, at 7:00 p.m. inside Gilbert Arena.
Box Score: UCM 3, CLU 2; UCSC 3, CLU 0
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