By Christina Lee
City on a Hill Press Reporter

For most teams, losing shows how much room there is for improvement — but for the Slugs, a recent loss showed how much the team has improved this season.

Despite having lost to the University of the Pacific twice in the two weeks since the season began, the UC Santa Cruz men’s volleyball team is not disappointed. In fact, the Slugs are enthusiastic. Last Friday, the Division III team played the Pacific Tigers, a DI team, taking them to five games and eventually losing 3-2.

Even though the outcome of the match will not affect the Slugs’ standings in the Molten Final Four, the national competition for DIII teams, taking a DI team like Pacific as far as it could go did bring some added confidence to the rest of their season.

“I don’t know that we’re really too concerned with the loss defining our season or the loss changing any major thing,” coach Jonah Carson said.

In fact, Carson and the Slugs were proud of how they were able to hold their own against the Tigers, and at how well-prepared they looked so early in the season.

“It’s not too big of a deal we lost,” said outside hitter senior Chris Konish. “It’s nice that we went five games with them because they’re a NCAA team. But they’re Division I, so technically they were supposed to beat us.”

The team is happy to have improved so dramatically since their first match with Pacific, which they lost 0-3.

“We would get down like four points and then we would fight back,” said setter and libero junior Eric Rowell, “so I think we are a really good, fighting team. It’s a loss in the loss column, but you know we feel like we’ve improved.”

Although Rowell and his teammates downplay it, the Slugs’ achievement of taking Pacific to a fifth set shows the progress made in the past two weeks and the potential for the rest of the season.

“They were our first match at home and we lost to them … because we didn’t play great at that point, but we’ve had some more matches and practices,” Konish said. “I’m not going to say that I was expecting to win, but I was very optimistic — let’s put it that way.”

The Slugs fought hard against the Tigers, battling to take the first set 31-29. They were then inched out in the next two sets, losing with close scores of 28-30 and 27-30. The Slugs then rallied and took the fourth set 30-28, but ultimately lost the fifth and deciding set 8-15.

“With UOP being a DI team, it does hurt to lose when we feel like we should win that match,” Rowell said. “But it’s also nice to take two games with them and take them to five at their home [court].”

Although the Tigers defeated the Slugs, Pacific had to work for each point scored in the match, proving the Slugs a force to be reckoned with.

“When people look at our record,” Konish said, “they’ll look at us and see that we played like a Division I school on the West Coast and competed with [University of the Pacific]. It’s a pretty good showing for us.”