Only two home matches remain in the 2011 regular season for the playoff-bound UCSB men’s volleyball team. The Gauchos (13-11 overall, 10-8 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) take on Pacific tonight at 7 p.m. in Rob Gym before the team gets to host defending national champion Stanford on Friday night.
[media-credit id=20281 align="alignright" width="147"][/media-credit]With a win over UC San Diego last week, the #8 Gauchos managed to secure a spot in the MPSF playoffs for the first time since 2006. But after a 3-1 loss to UC Irvine in the team’s last game, the Gauchos now look to regain momentum heading into the postseason. Tonight’s match versus a young Pacific squad could provide UCSB with an ideal opportunity to do so.
“Pacific always plays tough. They will be ready to play,” Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said. “They’re out of the playoffs, but they’ll be dangerous. We need to maintain our focus throughout the match.”
Coming off a loss in straight sets to MPSF regular season champion and nationally-ranked #1 USC, Pacific (10-17 overall, 4-15 MPSF) has officially been eliminated from the playoff picture.
“We are using these next few games to prepare ourselves for playoffs,” senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel said. “Even though we have already made the playoffs, we aren’t about to take a day off. We want to win no matter who we play.”
Although Menzel put up a season-high 24 kills versus UC Irvine last weekend, UCSB failed to maintain consistency in a tough loss. With only two home matches left on the schedule, the senior-heavy Gauchos are determined to go out on a high note in front of their home crowd before the season ends.
“I’m actually a little nervous,” Menzel said. “I just don’t want to put on a bad performance for the audience. It hasn’t really hit me yet that my last year is almost over. I know I shouldn’t be looking past these next games, but I’m focused on playoffs now. I can’t wait to demoralize the other teams.”
First serve is set for 7 p.m. in Rob Gym.