After losing two games in its first road trip of the season, the No. 10 UCSB men’s volleyball team will now get ready for a four-game homestand starting with Princeton University tonight at Rob Gym. With a season-high four-game losing streak, the Gauchos come into tonight’s match with renewed focus.
“We lost a few games in a row but the good news is this week is a new week and we have three games this week,” sophomore outside hitter Kevin Donohue said. “I think we’re all excited to get back on the court as soon as possible and snap this losing streak, and we’re going to get ready for Princeton.”
While Santa Barbara is already well under way with its conference schedule, Princeton will play its first game of the season against the Gauchos on its way to preparing itself for the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association conference season. Even though this match is nothing more than friendly for UCSB (3-5 overall, 1-4 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), the team still understands the potential implications of the game.
“It’ll definitely be a confidence booster if we win and it’ll help us on our paths to getting better,” sophomore opposite Matt Marsh said.
In what will be its third game in four days, tonight’s matchup will also be UCSB’s first game of three scheduled for the week — the most games in a week the team will play all season long. After tonight’s game, Santa Barbara will once again commence its conference schedule against No. 2 UC Irvine on Wednesday, followed by a game on Friday versus No. 12 UC San Diego.
“We definitely just have to focus on staying healthy and staying strong for the season, and this week will be a test,” Donohue said. “… [Maybe] we’ll play a little fatigued but we just have to play past that and get our mind and body ready to go for this week.”
Serving has been key for the Gauchos all season long and has been a part of their game they have been unable to execute during their four-game losing streak. The serving game will be just as important against the Tigers and will be a critical factor in helping out the Gauchos on the defensive side of the ball.
“The main thing is we’re definitely going to work on serving and if we keep our serves in, it’ll help us out on blocking,” Marsh said. “We need a couple of stops so we can put Princeton in trouble and overall we just need to be aggressors as a team.”
On offense, UCSB will rely on freshman setter Jonah Seif to distribute the ball and organize the offensive attack for the Gauchos. Averaging 10.37 assists per game, Seif ranks seventh in the MPSF and he will have the responsibility of getting the ball to Marsh, who leads the team with 83 kills on the season.
Tonight’s game against Princeton is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Rob Gym.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of January 29th, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.