After winning the Elephant Bar Tournament at the Thunderdome, the UCSB men’s volleyball team will hope to start out its regular season strong.

On Jan. 13, the Gauchos will travel south to San Diego to face University of California, San Diego in the season opener. Because UCSD does not have a Division I program, the Gauchos have to be careful not to lose focus early in the season after a fabulous victory in the E-Bar Tournament.

“UCSD is not one of the toughest teams we’ll face,” sophomore middle blocker Brian Nordberg said. “We have to try and focus on improving as a team no matter who we’re playing against.”

Fellow teammates shared Nordberg’s view on the upcoming games. Following the trip to San Diego, Santa Barbara faces the Banana Slugs at the Thunderdome in the team’s home opener.

“E-Bar was a great win, but now we have to put it behind us and continue with the season,” redshirt freshman setter Jeff Minc said. “I think of it as a great experience, but now we have to focus on the regular season and keep pushing forward. That was still an awesome win and a great experience.”

The team is preparing for a strong start to its season, and it has been working out on areas of its game that need some brushing up during recent practices. The players are also hoping that the success of the E-Bar Tournament will not place heightened judgements in the players’ minds.

“We have practice [today] and we’re doing what works,” senior libero Shane Johnston said. “Our team has great chemistry so far this year. Usually, we can get excited about games … we have done a lot of passing fundamentals [in practice]. We’ve been working on the kinks and worked on some of the plays.

“We all agree that there’s at least 20-30 percent improvement on our team this year. You can look at the Elephant Bar Tournament finalists, and you never know what’s going to happen to them the rest of the season. Yet a good start is definitely not bad.”