SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Freshmen Logan Smiley and Nate Reynolds led the team with a combined 17 kills to lead Stevenson to a 3-0 win on Friday afternoon over Illinois Tech at the Slug Slam hosted by UC Santa Cruz. Set scores were 25-23, 25-22, 25-15.
Reynolds hit .455 for Stevenson (2-0) with seven kills and two errors on 11 attack opportunities. His classmate Smiley added 10 kills on 24 attacks. Junior Landon Shorts chipped in seven kills and led the way at the service line with six aces. Junior Jared Chin and freshman Aleks Melbardis handed out 29 assists between the two, with Chin posting 15 of them to lead the Mustangs in that category. Defensively, sophomore Derek Tangorra was responsible for a game-high 14 digs.
Illinois Tech (0-1) was paced by nine kills from Cinjun Coe on 20 attacks. Evan Robeck added five kills and two serve aces. Daniel Throop dished out 20 assists.
The Mustangs jumped out of the gates quick as three straight service aces from Shorts opened the match up at 4-0. A kill by Shorts set up by Melbardis made it 10-4 and led to an early timeout for the Scarlet Hawks, who proceeded to record four of the next five points to close the gap to 11-8. Another ace from Shorts pushed the Mustangs out to a 15-9 advantage. From there the teams exchanged points with Illinois Tech only cutting the margin by one to 21-16. The Scarlet Hawks kept up the strong fight in the opening set when consecutive Stevenson attack errors made the score 24-23. Reynolds made sure that the rally came to a halt as his kill ended the first set.
Set number two again started out strong for the Mustangs as two more Shorts aces made it 3-1. However, the Scarlet Hawks dug in and went on a 11-3 spurt to take a 12-6 edge. With the score at 15-10, Stevenson started its rally as kills by senior Alex Klunk and Reynolds cut the deficit to 15-13. The Mustangs got back on even terms at 19-19 after an attack error by Coe. Another kill by Reynolds ended a 6-3 stretch to give Stevenson the middle frame.
The final set saw the Mustangs get out to a fast start when a kill by junior Jason Gardner made the score 9-4. Robeck picked up a kill to get the Scarlet Hawks the closest they would get in the set at 10-6. From there Stevenson took full control and outscored Illinois Tech 15-5 to close out the match.
Stevenson hit .237 on the day to the Scarlet Hawks .160. The Mustangs held a slim edge on the service line with nine aces to five for Illinois Tech.
The Mustangs are back in action on Saturday for two matches at the Slug Slam hosted by UC Santa Cruz. First, they will face off with Cal Lutheran at 1pm (Eastern), and then square off with the host and eighth-ranked Banana Slugs at 10pm.