Entering tonight’s game riding a six-game losing streak, the No. 13 UCSB men’s volleyball team will play its third game of the week tonight against No. 11 UC San Diego at Rob Gym.
“I think we’ll be ready to play. UC San Diego is a really good time; they’re ranked higher than us and they’ve beaten us I think the last four times in a row,” Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said. “We have to play our best volleyball, but I think our guys are up for it for sure, so I would expect a long battle.”
Santa Barbara comes into the match with a record of 3-7 overall and just one win in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (1-5) after getting swept by UC Irvine Wednesday night in a closely contested game. The Tritons are 4-6 overall and 2-4 in conference and snapped their three-game losing streak against Princeton University Wednesday, a team that upset the Gauchos earlier in the week.
Despite losing to the Anteaters, the Gauchos still showed signs of improvement as they played up to par with the defending national champions, not losing by more than two points in any of the three sets. Most importantly, the passing game seemed to be getting back on track as the team easily delivered its best passing performance of the season.
“Passing was great — our best passing match of the year for sure,” McLaughlin said. “We passed a really high number. We only had one receiving error the whole night.”
Senior outside hitter Miles Evans showed promise of coming back from his nagging injury that has hampered him since the beginning of the season. Miles saw a considerable amount of playing time against Irvine and was arguably the best player on the court for the Gauchos, racking up eight kills and hitting .444 for the match without any hitting errors.
“I feel [Wednesday] was a really big night for me because in the past it’s been really hard to come back. I’ve been slowly coming back to my full jump,” Evans said. “I didn’t think I was as good as I am now so I’ve just been battling mentally and it felt really nice tonight to come back and prove myself again.”
However, just as Evans seems to be getting back, UCSB was dealt another serious blow after the first set against Irvine. Team captain and senior middle blocker Dylan Davis was forced to leave the game after no longer being able to play with an injury he sustained against Princeton.
Tonight’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Rob Gym.
A version of this article appeared on page 5 of February 1st, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.