In its last home men’s volleyball match before Spring Break, #4 UCSB (10-8, 8-7 MPSF) hosts Cal State Northridge (4-13, 3-9 MPSF) tonight in Robertson Gym. The Gauchos will try to shake off back-to-back losses and return to their winning ways to secure a playoff spot in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
“We need to put a stop to this losing streak,” Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said. “We haven’t lost three in a row all year. We need to win our next match for the playoff hunt. We got to compete at our best and be consistent. You can’t just do it in pieces and get away with it.”
The Gauchos come off a 3-1 loss to CSU Long Beach on Wednesday. The UCSB attack could not get around the 49er defense, and Long Beach handed the Gauchos their second consecutive loss for the second time this season. With a dozen kills and a match-high five blocks, senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter was one of the bright spots for UCSB.
“Long Beach is a very good team. I expect them to move up into the top three in the country,” McLaughlin said. “But we were right with them. We didn’t play smart. We made mistakes in big times late in games. We have to improve on that.”
UCSB must now focus on Cal State Northridge, who is also amidst a losing streak. With a loss to #8 UCLA this week, the Matadors have lost three straight matches.
“This is a must-win,” senior outside hitter Cullen Irons said. “Every game is a must-win from here on out. We need to get our confidence back and get back into the rhythm of things. We will focus on the little things again and iron out some kinks. We can’t take Northridge easy.”
The usually dominant Irons was significantly limited against Long Beach, recording only seven kills on 26 attempts. The Gauchos seem determined to bounce back and regain the team’s mojo.
Tonight’s matchup between UCSB and Cal State Northridge starts at 7 p.m. in Robertson Gymnasium. The Gauchos then have a week off before competing in the Long Beach Active Ankle Tournament.