Women’s basketball faces a competitive schedule. They already played 10 games last month, double the average of other Division III teams, said head coach Todd Kent.
Women’s basketball defeated Chapman University on Dec. 15. This marks the school’s first victory against Chapman on its homecourt and the third victory against them in UC Santa Cruz’s history. The team maintained a similar line-up from last season, though they added four freshmen.
“I’m proud of how we battled through our DIII schedule,” Kent said. “We played a lot of games in a short time [and] three of those five losses were to nationally ranked teams, including the number nine team in the country.”
The team has nine games left in the regular season, and will primarily face DI and DII teams, before they hope to participate in the NCAA DIII National Championships.
“We are super confident and extremely excited to play the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, DI and DII teams,” said senior forward Michelle Poole. “We want to play good teams to not only make ourselves better but to prove to a lot of people, who may not have heard of us, that we are a great team as well.”
UCSC men’s basketball dealt with team injuries that benched two players this season — junior forward Sam Gabbard and sophomore forward and center Will Crain.
“The season has been a little bit of a disappointment in the fact that we really gave away a lot of games that we should have won comfortably,” said junior forward Kyle Creighton in an email.
Creighton received the Association of Division III Independent Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the end of December after scoring a career high of 21 points in a Dec. 20 match against Whittier College.
“We lost two of our best players and these injuries have made it so someone else has to step up or some people are playing different positions they aren’t used to,” said junior forward Tre Weston in an email. “It’s definitely good for younger guys to get this game experience with them out of the lineup.”
Despite the injuries, head coach Ron Dubois was particularly proud of the team’s skills in the DIII Hoops Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 28-30.
“It was great because we got exposure to teams from all over, Virginia, Ohio, New York and Illinois,” Dubois said. “We went against the best of the best and really held our own.”
Swim and Dive
UCSC’s swim and dive is preparing for the Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference (PCSC) championships in L.A. in February.
Last season, swim and dive overcame several highly competitive DI and DII teams at the PCSC championships, placing second for men and eighth for women overall at the national NCAA DIII conference overall despite being one of the few universities unable to provide athletic scholarships due to their DIII designation.
Head coach Kim Musch is optimistic for the team’s chances in this year’s championships, citing improved performances among the team’s returning members.
The team most recently competed at California Lutheran University on Jan. 7. The men’s team finished in the top five of all sixteen events at the meet. Junior Wesley Whittlesey won the 100 yard and 200 yard backstroke and senior Casey Colella, junior Eli Cirino and junior Jason Williams each took first in separate events.
The women’s team had participants in the top 5 in all sixteen events. They had the best time overall in the 400-yard medley. Senior Krystal Feri won the 1,650-yard freestyle and 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, senior Ellen Curry won the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley and first year Laura Mendenhall won the 200-yard freestyle relay.
“The girl’s team is smaller than usual, but it’s really strong,” said women’s captain Megan Roby. “It’s sort of a quality over quantity kind of thing.”
Men’s volleyball is in its first week of the official season, and the team is currently ranked sixth in the nation for their league by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). These rankings are used to decide what teams earn a spot in the national championships in April.
UCSC is one of two DIII teams on the west coast and will have a season of challenging matches and out-of-state tournaments.
“With two out-of-state trips planned while facing a spring referendum determining our 2018 budget, I can safely see we had to strategically plan each of our scheduled matches,” said head coach Paul Leon.
Returning junior Lake Merchen holds last year’s title of All American player by the AVCA. Twelve out of 13 of the team’s roster are seasoned returning players, including three seniors and five juniors.
“Our students are fueled by their peers,” Leon said. “I hope to see a unified banana slug culture among the student body that shows pride in university representation and hosted competitions.”