Kingsmen Take 2019 National Runner-Up UC Santa Cruz to Five Sets, Sweep Lakeland on Slug Slam Day One

Blake Zingerman sets the ball against UC Santa Cruz on day one of the Slug Slam.
Blake Zingerman sets the ball against UC Santa Cruz on day one of the Slug Slam.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.— Cal Lutheran men's volleyball nearly pulled off a huge upset, but fell to the 2019 national runner-up, UC Santa Cruz, 2-3 on Friday night which was day one of UCSC's Slug Slam. The Kingsmen opened the tournament by defeating Lakeland 3-0.

After splitting on the day, Cal Lutheran is 2-1 on the season. The Kingsmen swept the Muskies of Lakeland 25-15, 25-15, 25-13, before falling to UCSC in a barn-burner 25-27, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 15-17.

Cal Lutheran vs. Lakeland
The Kingsmen made quick work of the Huskies, winning the game in just one hour and one minute. CLU hit with a .476 attack percentage in the first set, .500 in the second and .438 in the third. Out of the 53 swings, the Kingsmen only committed five errors.

Patrick Rowe swatted down 11 kills on 14 attempts as he hit .714 for the match. Connor Hinthorn was next with 6 kills, hitting .455, and Justin Dietrich tallied five and hit .833. 

Blake Zingerman moved the ball around and dished out 188 assists to go with five digs. His five digs tied the team-high with Rowe. Dietrich showed off an all-around game as he served two aces and tallied three blocks. 

After being down 3-2 in the first set, Cal Lutheran tallied the next five points and took a 7-3 lead. A 5-0 swing a little bit later allowed the Kingsmen to double up the Muskies at 16-8. CLU kept the points coming and claimed the first set 25-15. The Purple and Gold matched the same score in the second set and had a 2-0 match lead. 

In the third set, the Kingsmen took a quick 13-4 lead capped off by seven straight points. The big lead helped Cal Lutheran coast the rest of the game as the Purple and Gold took the third set 25-13 and won the match. 

Cal Lutheran vs. UC Santa Cruz
The Kingsmen had four players tally double-digit kills and were led by Rowe as he tallied a career-high 20 kills and hit with a percentage of .359. Dietrich was next with 14 kills, Kelly Jew swatted down 13 and Andrew Reina added 12 more. 

Many Kingsmen contributed to the high scoring match as Zingerman tallied his first career double-double with 48 assists and 14 digs. Eli Moore was next with 11 digs, Rowe was right behind him with nine, Dietrich tallied four blocks and Reina added four aces and six digs. 

Every set went all the way to end as each contest came down to the final points. After the Banana Slugs won the first set 27-25, it was up to the Kingsmen to answer in the second. Cal Lutheran did just that 25-23 and knotted up the score.

The teams went back-and-forth over the next two sets with UCSC winning the third and CLU winning the fourth, both by a score of 25-23. It all came down to the fifth set, which was just as competitive as the rest. 

The Kingsmen were right on the doorstep of the upset, but the Banana Slugs fought back strong and escaped with the fifth set win, 17-15, and the match 3-2. 

The Kingsmen are back at it Saturday for day two of the Slug Slam. Cal Lutheran plays Wells at 10 a.m. and has a rematch with Marymount (Va.), who they opened the season with, at 12:30 p.m. 

Box Score: CLU 3, LU 0UCSC 3, CLU 2
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Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director