The UC Santa Cruz men’s volleyball team won its eighth consecutive game Wednesday night as the No. 2 Slugs took on unranked Lakeland College at home.
The eight-game streak is the longest in recent history for the program. Coupled with an overall 16-3 record, this streak catapulted the Slugs from a low No. 8 to now No. 2 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll released Wednesday. The Slugs went 8-1 in February while playing all nine games on the road with extended road trips to New York and Wisconsin.
“It’s been a good year for us. We’ve had our ups and downs as a team but we try to learn from our mistakes every time we step out there,” said senior captain and outside hitter Jake Landel, who was recently named the AVCA Men’s National Player of the Week, tallying 46 kills and 28 digs over the course of the week.
After going 4-1 on its East Coast road swing, the team dominated its first two matchups in Kenosha, Wisconsin as it swept its opponents by a combined score of 6-0. Remarkable performances against Dominican and nationally ranked Stevens followed the strong start to the tournaments, as the Slugs surged past both teams in four sets.
“We’ve had some good success midseason. This recent tournament was a culmination of all the extra effort players have been putting into practice, both physically and mentally,” said head coach Todd Hollenbeck. “We’ve been pushing our players harder and they have been responding well to our practice regiment.”
The Slugs look to ride their late season momentum to a NCAA tournament bid as the season winds down next month. Only 10 games remain on the schedule.
“The biggest challenge is going to be keeping these guys focused as finals near and at this point in the season, fatigue becomes a factor,” Hollenbeck said. “We have some really big games coming up next week against some good Division III schools.”
The team will travel to Southern California this Friday where it will play four games in two days as a part of a tournament in Irvine. This tournament, along with a return trip to New York for four games to close out the season in early April, will determine the fate of the Slugs’ playoff hopes this year.