SANTA CRUZ, Calif.— The No. 8 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen volleyball team went 1-1 on Saturday, day one of the Slug Slam Tournament, as they defeated North Central 3-1 (19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 26-24), but fell in a top-10 showdown with No. 5 SUNY New Paltz.
The two-day tournament is being hosted by UC Santa Cruz at the Kaiser Permanente Arena. CLU is now 2-1 on the year.
With their 3-1 against North Central, the Kingsmen avenged a five-set loss to North Central last year. The Kingsmen defense was out in full force as CLU combined for 54 digs and 9.5 total team blocks.
Junior Patrick Rowe showed an all-around game as he tied for the match-high with 14 kills, a career-high 15 digs and a career-high five total blocks.
With North Central winning the first set, the Kingsmen were determined to tie up the match. With North Central up 17-13, Cal Lutheran rattled off eight straight points and took a 21-17 lead. Rowe tallied three kills and Dietrich swatted down another during the run. The Kingsmen used an impressive 11-1 run as they went on to win the set 25-22.
CLU carried that momentum into the third set and took a quick 5-0 lead. Rowe had two kills and junior Nick Christy and Stewart each tallied one. Cal Lutheran used another 5-0 run during the set as they took a 2-1 match lead with a 25-21 win. The fourth set remained tight the entire way. With the score knotted at 24, Ward and Stewart put on the finishing touches as they each swatted down a kill. Cal Lutheran took the set 26-24 and won the match 3-1.
Versus SUNY New Paltz, Stewart led the Violet and Gold with 11 kills. The rest of the offense was very balanced as Ward tallied nine, Rowe had eight, Reina recorded six and Christy had five.
Bennett and Nelson kept the offense going with 17 and 16 assists, respectively. Rowe tallied a team-high seven digs and Reina had six and Marc Quezada had five. Dietrich and Christy led the offense at the net with three blocks each.
In the first set, CLU had a 9-5 led after Dietrich and Reina combined for a block. The Kingsmen held a small lead for most of the set. With the Kingsmen up 22-19, CLU earned the next three points and won the first set 25-19.
SUNY New Paltz bounced back and won the second and third sets with the same score of 25-22. With the fourth set tied at 6-6, SUNY New Paltz took the lead by scoring six straight points. The Kingsmen fought back and eventually tied the set at 19. Ward tallied three straight kills and then combined with Dietrich for a block. The No. 5 team in the nation turned it on after that as SUNY New Paltz won the set 25-22 and defeated the Kingsmen 3-1.
Cal Lutheran continues the tournament tomorrow. The Kingsmen play Marian at 10 a.m.
Box Score: CLU 3, NCC 1; SUNY New Paltz 3, CLU 1
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Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director