The UCSB men’s volleyball will be put to the test tonight when Northridge tries to derail its recent momentum.
The Gauchos are coming off an impressive showing at the Elephant Bar Invitational last weekend. Finishing second, Santa Barbara lost in five sets to the University of Arizona club team. After battling the Wildcats to a 2-2 tie, the Gauchos dropped the fifth and deciding set 17-15. Senior setter Britt Galang and senior opposite hitter Ben Koski led the way for the Gauchos, earning All-Tournament honors.
The Gauchos will need Koski and Galang again tonight when they take on the Matadors in the first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match for both teams. Though it is still extremely early, Santa Barbara is confident in its ability and knows exactly what it will take to beat CSUN (1-1).
“I feel really prepared,” Galang said. “We’ve gone through tournaments and done well. We have all the tools we need [to play well].”
UCSB understands the importance of tonight’s game and knows that a win tonight could set the tempo for the rest of the season.
“[Tonight’s game] is very important because it’s the first game of league,” freshman libero Aaron Mansfield said.
Northridge is coming off of a loss to Quincy, Illinois on Jan. 11, but the Matadors had five players with double figure kill totals. After winning the first game of a two-game series, CSUN played again and lost a non-conference marathon 17-30, 30-25, 31-29, 25-30, 15-7. Sophomore middle blocker Stan Douglas led Northridge with 14 kills and a .545 hitting percentage while star senior opposite Eckhard Walter tallied 13 kills.
Technically, the Gauchos have gone undefeated this season, beating up on Long Beach State and La Verne while crushing Pepperdine 3-1 on Jan. 7. The 2-1 record posted at the E-Bar Tournament will not count toward UCSB’s official mark because some of their opponents competed at the club level. Although a perfect season is not out of the question, Santa Barbara realizes that there is a long road ahead.
“It’s how you finish that matters,” Mansfield said.
Senior outside hitter Andy Rivera urged the fans to come out and have a good time at tonight’s game.
“Winning at home and establishing home-court advantage is to our benefit,” Rivera said.
The Gauchos will need to win at home before they hit the road. After Friday night’s home game against Irvine, UCSB must travel to such hostile confines as Pacific, Stanford, USC and Pepperdine before returning home on Feb. 8 when it faces Stanford.