SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Illinois Tech Men's Volleyball continued competition in the Slug Slam Tournament at the University of California-Santa Cruz on Saturday. The team lost the first match against the host Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz—ranked eighth nationally—and fell 3-2 to Cal Lutheran in the second day of the tri-team tournament.
- UCSC 3, Tech 0 (14-25, 22-25. 22-25)
- Cal Lutheran 3, Tech 2 (18-25, 19-25, 26-24, 25-22, 15-17)
How it Happened – UC Santa Cruz Match
- The Scarlet Hawks started slow to begin the first set. After falling behind 12-3, the Hawks closed the gap a bit behind points from Lukasz Kupiec and Cinjun Coe. UCSC never trailed by more than eight down the stretch and closed out the set 25-14.
- To begin the second set, Coe and Easton Kays kept the Scarlet Hawks close with some key kills. However Gino Gamboa and Cody Hiroto continued to control the action for UCSC, building a seven-point lead 23-16. Kays and Coe helped get the Hawks back to within three at 23-30 but the Slugs closed out the second set 25-22.
- Tech emerged with energy in the third set. A strong team effort propelled the Hawks out to a 10-6 lead before UCSC called timeout. Tech retained the lead until UCSC fought back to tie the set at 18. Cody Chacon then took over from behind the service line and the Hawks could not recover, dropping the set and match with a 25-22 defeat,
Scarlet Hawk Standouts – UC Santa Cruz Match
- Kays led the Scarlet Hawks with nine kills (on a .286 attack percentage.) He also had one service ace and one block assist
- Kupiec had seven kills plus eight digs and one assist
- Andriy Bench recorded six kills with 15 digs and a team-high two service aces
- Coe also finished with six kills and a block assist
Stats to Know – UC Santa Cruz Match
- UCSC had the slight advantage in team attack percentages (.162 to .160)
- UCSC also slightly led in kills 35-31
- The Slugs also had more assists (34-29) and digs (48-38)
How it Happened- Cal Lutheran Match
- Cal Lutheran was steady on both ends of the floor in the first two sets, holding Tech to a .024 hit percentage in the first set before recording a .212 hit percentage on offense in set two. The balance led to a 2-0 Cal Lutheran lead.
- The tide began to turn for Tech in set three. After trailing 14-8 and then 21-14 late, the Scarlet Hawks mounted a furious comeback behind the offense of Kupiec. The senior tallied five kills in the final 11 points for the Scarlet Hawks as Tech closed the set on a 12-3 run. A key ace from Ben Peschel gave Tech its first lead of the set at 25-24 before an attack error sealed the deal.
- In set four, the Scarlet Hawks built on the momentum to jump out to a 9-4 lead. The advantage built to as high as seven at 21-14 before Cal Lutheran mead a late run, but Tech hung on for the win.
- Cal Lutheran scored the first three points in the fifth set, but Tech raillied back to tie the score at 6-6. An attack error gave the Hawks a 12-11 lead later on, but it would be the only lead Tech enjoyed the rest of the way. While Tech forced a 15-15 tie, Cal Lutheran scored twice afterward to ice the match.
Scarlet Hawk Standouts – Cal Lutheran Match
- Kupiec was outstanding, tallying 26 kills and a .388 hit percentage.
- Coe (11) and Kays (10) also tallied double-digit kills. Kays, along with Evan Robeck, had three block assists.
- Peschl led the team with 35 assists.
- Bench had 10 digs.
Stats to Know – Cal Lutheran Match
- Tech outhit Cal Lutheran .184% to .180% and also had 61 kills compared to just 48 for the opponent.
- Cal Lutheran outdug Tech 63-50.
- Service aces were even at nine apiece.
- Tech will play twice on Saturday, January 20 at Concordia-Wisconsin, taking on Greenville at 1:00 p.m. and host CUW at 3:00 p.m.