Pacific Squeaks By DIII No. 1 UC Santa Cruz, 3-2


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Santa Cruz, Calif. - Behind a career outing from senior Simon Chen-Byerley (Northfiled, Ill.), the Pacific mens volleyball team doubled their win total Thursday, Mar. 20, in a 3-2 victory over the D-III No.1 UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs in East Fieldhouse.

The win moved the Tigers to 2-18 overall while the loss dropped the Slugs to 13-9 overall. Scores of the match were 28-30, 30-24,26-30, 30-21, and 15-13.

The Tigers came into Santa Cruz on the receiving end of a 10 game losing streak, all that would change a few hours later. Utilizing a 24 kills from senior Pekka Seppanen (Kuopio, Finland), and a career best 19 kills from fellow senior Chen-Byerley, the Tigers were able to defeat a solid UC Santa Cruz squad in five games.

Pacific found themselves in a surprising battle with the Slugs early on in game one. Both teams came out firing, and the Tigers were caught off guard. Poor defense plagued the Tigers the whole game and Pacific trailed the entire game. UC Santa Cruz's potent offense proved to be too much for the Tigers, as Pacific fell 30-28.

Game two saw the Tigers' offense ready and waiting for the Slugs' firepower. Both teams gave an offensive showing that proved to be noteworthy. Seppanen and Chen-Byerley carried the offensive load for Pacific, as they held the lead for a majority of the game. In the end, the Tigers closed out UC Santa Cruz and took the game 30-24.

The third game proved to Pacific why the Slugs were the No.1 team at the D-III level. UC Santa Cruz came out swinging and took an early lead, and held it steady behind a rock-solid offense. Pacific answered back behind another Chen-Byerley kill and brought the score close at 10-7, Santa Cruz lead. The two teams battled back and forth for the rest of the game, and again the Slugs' offense proved too potent for the Tigers, as Pacific fell 30-26 in the game.

Game four welcomed a motivated Tiger squad to the floor, and this proved to be all Pacific needed. The Tigers launched a dominant offensive attack to start the game and this gave them all the cushion they needed. Pacific held the Slugs at bay the entire game, keying on a struggling Santa Cruz defense. The Tigers cruised to a victory in the game behind their offense, 30-21, forcing a deciding game five.

Riding the momentum train, Pacific used their dominant performance in game four to set the tone early in game five. The teams traded blows throughout the game, and the Tigers found themselves leading the game 11-8. UC Santa Cruz was not to be outdone however as they battled back to score five of the next seven points and tie the score at 13-13. Two unanswered kills sealed the deal for the Tigers, and gave Pacific the 15-13 win in the game and the match.

Pacific was led by Seppanen with 24 kills, while Chen-Byerley added a career high 19 for a .640 hitting percentage.

Santa Cruz was led by Brian Shires who had 21 kills.

The Tigers are next in action Friday March 21st, as they take on New Jersey Institute of Technology at the Alex G. Spanos Center. First Serve is scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Article courtesy of Pacific athletics.

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