The UCSB men’s volleyball team will get a chance at redemption tonight when it travels to Northridge to play the Matadors at 7.
The Gauchos lost 3-1 to CSUN on Saturday night at Rob Gym in the third-place match of the UCSB/Elephant Bar Invitational. But the loss has not hindered Santa Barbara’s confidence.
“We’re not too concerned [with the loss],” junior middle blocker Justin Adams said. “[Tonight’s game] is a huge game in our conference. Last time we were without our starting outside hitter and middle blocker in [Jan Carlo Zegarra] and myself. But Northridge always plays us tough at Northridge.”
The Gauchos missed senior outside hitter Zegarra and Adams in the match against CSUN because of injuries suffered in the fall. Adams labored through back problems and Zegarra suffered a stress fracture, but both will be playing tonight.
“[The back] is doing a lot better,” Adams said. “I’ve been going to therapy at the Health Center twice a week and that has been helping me.”
CSUN enters the match 3-1, with its only loss coming at the hands of UCLA in the semifinals of the UCSB/E-bar Invite. Junior middle blocker Scott Arneson led the way Saturday with 19 kills for Northridge. Junior setter Ty Tramblie tallied 59 assists for the Matadors in the win. CSUN held out two of its main weapons in the third-place match against Santa Barbara, so both teams enter tonight’s game fully loaded.
“The end of the tournament was not as critical to win as the beginning,” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. “But I think we can get an idea of their setting, more than their hitters, because … [senior middle blocker Joe] Nargi and [sophomore outside hitter Nils] Nielsen didn’t play much, and they are their two main guys.”
Despite the victory for the Matadors, Northridge would have preferred to wait until tonight to play the Gauchos for the first time. The match on Saturday gave UCSB an excellent chance to scout CSUN.
“I know they didn’t want to play us in the tournament,” Preston said. “I didn’t care, but [Northridge Head Coach Jeff Campbell] did. We were playing again so quickly after, so maybe we wouldn’t get a film on him.”
Several Gauchos played well in the match against CSUN on Saturday, yet UCSB has several kinks to work out.
“Serving is a big key for us; we missed so many last game,” sophomore middle blocker Michael Kennedy said. “If we serve more aggressively it should help us out a lot.”
This match will be the first road game of the year for the young Gaucho squad. But nervousness does not seem to be a factor with the onset of conference play.
“This is my fourth year so nerves aren’t a factor anymore,” Adams said. “My main concern is getting the freshmen ready. I remember when I was younger and going on the road was a totally new experience.”