The women’s basketball team is no stranger to setting records. Going 18-7 this year, for the last three seasons the Slugs have continuously set and beat their own record for most wins in a single season. But there is one accomplishment the Slugs can’t seem to beat — the first NCAA Division III tournament appearance in program-history.
Despite once again setting the bar for most wins this season, UCSC will most likely not be the top independent team in the NCAA Division III, and their chance to qualify for the tournament is very slim.
“We’re going in the right direction,” head coach Todd Kent said. “The team is really improving and doing a nice job. Next year we should break that personal record again that will put us in the championship.”
The team’s regular season ended on Feb. 22 with a one-point loss to Cal State San Marcos, snapping UCSC’s 10-game win streak.
Junior forward Leah Parrish said the team “has very little room for error” because they are an independent team. Out of the 11 independent teams in the country, one earns a spot into Pool B of the NCAA tournament.
“We officially find out next week, but we’re 99.99 percent sure we won’t make it,” Parrish said. “We lost too many Division III games. We’re going to practice until we find out for sure though.”
Rhodes College (21-3) will likely snatch the independent spot. Rhodes, which also earned a bid to the tournament last year, played an easier schedule than UCSC, and Kent believes his team was stronger last season and this season, despite what the records say.
The future of the women’s basketball team is promising, with six juniors making up the strong senior class next season. If the wins record continues to be broken, it won’t be long before the Slugs start qualifying for and winning NCAA tournament games.
A tough weekend isn’t a deal breaker for the men’s volleyball team. Despite a 0-3 weekend with losses against MIT, Springfield and Princeton, head coach Todd Hollenbeck said the team still has a chance to qualify for the tournament if they nearly win-out the remaining 10 games this season.
“We’re working on changing our mindset a little bit,” Hollenbeck said. “We’re working on a recovery strategy. Unfortunately this year the repercussions are greater than in past years.”
Hollenbeck said a lot of top teams were upset at the Golden Flyer Tournament. UCSC was knocked down four spots, falling to No. 10 in the rankings, while colleges like MIT and Stevens Institute moved up four and five spots, respectively, with multiple wins last weekend in Massachusetts.
The game versus Springfield was the toughest loss to swallow for the Slugs, not because there weren’t closer matches over the weekend, but as the top two independent teams, UCSC and Springfield are the main competitors fighting for the lone independent spot in the NCAA tournament.
The team is relieved to have a six-game home game stretch for the first time this year. On March 14 men’s volleyball will host the Slug Slam with games versus Endicott, Rivier and Carthage. After the home games, the team will once again fly to Massachusetts for the MIT tournament, where they will have a rematch with MIT.
“We’ve been traveling so much, having some home games is awesome,” Hollenbeck said. “Then it’s going to be really exciting to go back to [Massachusetts] and have another shot.”