Play of the Day: Courtney Calicdan kicks the ball over the net to spur the Oaks to a key point late in the third set:
Menlo bounced back Wednesday evening in a non-conference tilt against UC Santa Cruz (10-10) inside a rocking Haynes-Prim Pavilion. They bounced back after dropping the first set turned battle, 28-26. They bounced back after staring a 2-0 game deficit right in the face, down 24-22 in the second set. And they bounced back after facing early holes in the third and fourth sets. The Lady Oaks ability to bounce back netted Menlo (12-6) their ninth straight victory in a grueling 26-28, 27-25, 25-21, 25-20 win over the Banana Slugs.
"Santa Cruz did a lot of good things tonight, and we could have gotten frustrated and let it get in our heads," third year Head Coach Daniel Rasay said on his team's resilient effort. "But I thought we made some adjustments and stayed in it mentally. We were down in the second set, but just believed we would win the set and I think that belief carried us through the next two as well."
After falling in a drama filled first game, 28-26, Menlo had their hands full in an equally thrilling second set. Down 24-22, senior Stephanie Wertz began the comeback trail with a critical kill to chop the Santa Cruz advantage to 24-23. The ensuing point saw an attack error by the Slugs' Elisabeth Trambley that brought Menlo even, before an Emily Tonascia kill put the Oaks ahead. Thanks to a Helen Milne kill, Santa Cruz came right back to knot the set at 25-25, but a Nicole Yap kill and a Banana Slugs ball handling error sealed the deal on a 27-25 comeback victory to deadlock the match at 1-1.
Menlo took the momentum from the second set, and reversed a 13-12 third set deficit into an 8-2 run and a 20-15 advantage. The Oaks never looked back for a 25-21 victory and a 2-1 set lead.
Menlo closed out the match in the fourth set, taking four of the final five points to seize their ninth straight victory.
Tonight's "W" featured a balanced Oaks attack as six players racked up at least six kills. Sophomore Courtney Calicdan led all players with 16, junior Nicole Yap eclipsed double digits with ten, and sophomore Bayley Blackney rolled off seven with a team leading .353 hitting percentage, and a match high five solo blocks.
"I'm just really amped," said an enthusiastic Blackney moments after her team put the finish touches on the comeback win. "There's a whole new energy and we are a completely different team than we were in the beginning of the season. I love our energy and I love how we work together. We pick each other up when we are down, and we just have to keep on rolling."
Senior Mika Mendoza, Yap, and Calicdan each had at least 20 digs, with Mendoza leading the charge with 23. Senior Stephenie Monderine led the Oaks with 26 assists, trailing just the Slugs' Melissa Stoll for the match high with 31. UCSC's Kellie Graves had the greatest hitting percentage of anyone on the court with a .367 clip on 14 kills, while senior libero Jamie Weber paved the way with a match high 26 digs.
Menlo puts their nine-match winning streak and undefeated California Pacific Conference record on the line tomorrow evening (Oct. 18), welcoming in Pacific Union to Haynes-Prim Pavilion. The Oaks are on the precipice of greatness, as a win would give Menlo their first regular season Cal Pac title since 2009. First serve is scheduled for 7:00pm.