While some students were busy dusting off kegs this past weekend, the UCSB men’s volleyball team was doing a little dusting of its own.
On Saturday the Gauchos poured into the RIMAC Arena where they dusted off UC San Diego in a 30-20, 30-24, 30-24 victory, leaving the Tritons thirsty for more in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation season opener.
"We kept control of the match the whole time," junior outside hitter Andy Rivera said. "We came out knowing that we’re only as good as the way we play. Even though we knew we weren’t playing the strongest team, we knew we had to play strong."
The Gauchos (2-0 overall, 1-0 in the MPSF) got the job done in less than 45 minutes and there was not one time in the contest when Santa Barbara had all of its starters in at the same time.
"Our coach experimented with different lineups," freshman middle blocker Justin Adams said. "This lets the coaches see who can do what and what combination of players works. It also gives players a chance to prove themselves."
UCSB had a balanced attack with six players contributing six or more kills. Rivera led the team offensively with nine kills and seven blocks. He was also the defensive leader with 6 digs. Alex Lienert and junior middle blocker Anders Bengtsson were close behind in kills with 8 each.
"The biggest difference in our game is our middle blockers," said junior outside hitter Dave Kohl, who contributed 6 kills and 3 digs. "Anders and [sophomore] Brian [Nordberg] are the quickest middles we’ve had."
This season the Gauchos have a hefty roster of 28 members and have already beaten several tough teams in preseason competition, including Long Beach State and UCLA. However, Santa Barbara has high hopes for the regular season and continues to look for ways to improve.
"The one thing we have to work on is our transition game," Kohl said. "Last year we had problems – we would get the ball and not know what to do with it. Having a good transition game can be the difference between winning and losing, and we’ve improved a lot on this."
The Gauchos will test UC Santa Cruz in their regular season home opener at the Thunderdome this Saturday at 7:05 p.m.