The women’s basketball team adjusted to playing at Kaiser Permanente Arena just fine. The Slugs are a force to be reckoned with both at home and when they’re playing downtown, forward Leah Parris said.
“We’ve completely adjusted to the court and have been undefeated on that court so far, so we’d like to stay,” Parrish said.
Since the end of fall quarter, the Slugs have gone 7-2 to round out their record to 11-6. While four of their losses should have been wins, the team is proud of their victories, Parrish said. Their season highlight is beating Cal Lutheran on the road, a previously unaccomplished feat in UC Santa Cruz team history.
“As a team, we’re focusing on improving the small details and limiting the small mistakes we’ve had problems with so far,” Parrish said. “We’ve been able to get away with playing well so far, but we’re planning on going to the tournament this year, which means we have to play great.”
Sarah Mackey leads the Slugs offensively with 15.1 points per game, with Parrish and Ryane Ortiz closely following. On Jan. 11 UCSC will play at home versus Pacific Union at Kaiser Arena. As the team works to improve their record enough to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, they take every game seriously.
Coming off a recent 74-66 win over Whittier, the men’s basketball team looks to keep the energy alive and improve their 3-14 record.
“As far as the team, we are working on continuing to stay focused on competing at a high level every day,” said junior guard Marshal Arnwine Jr. “Whether it is a practice or a game, our effort and competitive nature should never change. That is the mindset we are improving on and we will reach that level. Competing is something that has to be a habit, and we will reach that level as well.”
With no seniors on the squad, the two juniors on the team, Arnwine and James Townsend, lead the team of freshmen and sophomores.
Highlights of the season include wins over Pacific Union, Linfield and Whittier. Austin Steadman leads offensively with 11.1 points per game (PPG), while Townsend and Jared Ponce both average over 10 PPG. Playing in Kaiser Permanente Arena has been an exciting factor of the season.
“I’m grateful and humbled by the opportunity to play in an NBA type atmosphere and I never take it for granted,” Arwine said. “Overall, it is great for our basketball program because now that we play in downtown Santa Cruz more people in the community will come out and support our games.”
The Slugs’ next home game is Jan. 11 against Cal Maritime at 5 p.m. and Senior Night is Feb. 1 versus LaVerne at 2 p.m.
Women’s tennis will start their season on Jan. 15 against University of San Francisco. Last season in the second round of the NCAA playoffs the Slugs fell to Claremont Mudd Scripps (CMS), who were 27-0 going into the match. UCSC finished their season 10-8 after advancing through the first round with a 5-0 win over University of Texas at Dallas.
“This season is going to be a tough one because we had such a successful season last year, and we have been invited to multiple tournaments across the country,” senior Alex Scotten said. “This year we only have six players, which is the minimum you need so everyone is going to be playing the 18 matches we set up this season.”
UCSC lost three seniors last year and currently has three sophomores on the young team. As the No. 14 ranked team in NCAA Division II, the Slugs will travel to Indiana and Virginia for major tournaments in March.
Team goals include making it to regionals and beating tough competition like Redlands, Pomona and CMS, Scotten said. She personally aims to play at the No. 1 position for both singles and doubles to qualify for individual nationals in May.
“To get ready for the season we are working on our mental games and staying in top physical condition because we have no room for sickness or injury this year,” Scotten said.
On Jan. 8 the men’s volleyball team lost 3-0 to UC Santa Barbara for their first game of the season. The Gauchos have one 3-0 win this season over UC San Diego. Last year the Slugs finished 15-8, ending their season with a loss in the NCAA quarterfinals to Nazareth, who were 34-0 going into the game.
“Expectations for us to have a successful year are always high,” said senior outside hitter Jake Landel. “Since the program has made it to the NCAA tournament these past couple of years, it has become par that we make it again this year. We are not aiming for par — we would like nothing less than to exceed expectations and bring home a title.”
With two All-American starting seniors graduating, the Slugs will now be offensively led by Harley Frost and Landel, who respectively had 171 and 152 kills last season. Landel and Branden Torado were named team co-captains and look to lead a young team with eight freshmen out of the 15 rostered players.
“The challenges ahead of us include a lack of mental toughness,” Landel said. “We are a very young team and the mental game will be a recurring theme this season.”