UC Santa Cruz’s men’s volleyball team swiftly defeated Holy Names University in three games on Friday night, Feb. 26.
Rain and cold weather did not deter the Slugs, as they soundly handled Holy Names (from Oakland), beating them 30-17, 30-20, and 30-23. Santa Cruz’s win against the Hawks is the first of three meetings between the two teams this year. The next meeting, on April 2, will be Santa Cruz’s Senior Night.
Inside the West Field House, the lights shone brightly as fans gathered to watch the boys quickly defeat the Hawks.
During the first set, the players moved systematically, easily drawing first blood. In the second set, however, Holy Names kept tight with Santa Cruz early, holding their ground and matching the Slugs point-for-point until Santa Cruz broke the game open, increasing their lead to more than five. Most of Santa Cruz’s starters remained for the second game, but setter Mauro Salinas took over.
By the third set, the Hawks started fighting to stay alive. Holy Names started the third set following up each Santa Cruz point with one of their own, but eventually the Slugs were too much to take; Santa Cruz pulled ahead yet again and finished the match with a tip from Alex Merutka.
Starring at the top of the stat sheet was Justin Lam with an impressive 13 kills out of 17 attempts, Austin Einhorn with 9 kills out of 13 attempts and Austin Kress with 9 kills out of 10 attempts. Salinas contributed heavily to the Slugs’ win as well, with 31 assists in two games.
“I think we did a great job of bouncing back from our loss on Wednesday. It was definitely a good win to have going into our last regular season DIII game,” Salinas said. “Our strongest quality was to be able to rebound and side out – basically what we did the whole game, and we came out on top.”
Earlier in the week on Feb. 23, the boys played second-ranked Division I Stanford in Palo Alto, but unfortunately lost 3-0. However, after their second loss of the year the to nation’s then second-best college program, Santa Cruz rallied together to face their next opponent with a certain fierceness and authority.
“We played great, everybody stepped in, the team passed amazing and passing is the first key to volleyball,” outside hitter Austin Kress said. “We hit well as a team – nothing that night was a very big let-down. We lost a few points here and there but really came together as a team to get the next point.”