Banana Slugs Complete Comeback in Five- Set Thriller against UC Merced in home opener

Banana Slugs Complete Comeback in Five- Set Thriller against UC Merced in home opener

SANTA CRUZ (1-3) – UC Santa Cruz played their first home match of the 2020 season as they took on NAIA opponent UC Merced at Kaiser Permanente Arena. The Banana Slugs (1-1) came back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Golden Bobcats 3-2.

In the first set, the Golden Bobcats started the set on an 11-3 run enroute to winning the first set 25-19. In the second set, the Golden Bobcats would start on a 5-1 spurt. The Banana Slugs would get themselves back into the set and would take the lead at 9-7 after four consecutive Rowdy Lennon service aces. The two teams traded points for the next twenty-three points. The Banana Slugs held on to win 25-23 and tied the match at 1-1.

In the third set, the Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the set at three at 10-7. The Golden Bobcats would then go on a 9-1 run  to gain the lead for good at 16-11 and won the third set 25-17 for a 2-1 lead in the match. In the fourth set, the two teams traded points for the first six serves. The Banana Slugs would then go on an 11-1 run, capped by Phillip Grote's kill, to gain the lead for good at 14-4 and win the fourth set 25-17 to tie the match at 2-2.

In the fifth set, the Banana Slugs started the set on a 7-2 run but the Golden Bobcats answered with an 11-5 run to take the lead at 13-12. After a timeout, UCSC scored three straight points to win the fifth set 15-13 and the match 3-2. 

Quinn Barrett and Aaron Fox each had seven kills for UC Santa Cruz,  and for UC Merced, Chris Morikawa had a match-high fifteen kills. Tennessee Fulks had nineteen assists for UC Santa Cruz and led the Banana Slugs with a match-high thirteen digs.

For the match, UC Santa Cruz had a .095 overall hitting percentage with the best percentage coming in the fourth set at .188, while UC Merced hit .150 with their best percentage in the third set at .357. The Banana Slugs had seven more service aces (9-2) than did the Golden Bobcats. 

The Banana Slugs next will take on Stanford University in an exhibition match tomorrow in Palo Alto. The first serve is set for 6 pm.