After losing to Northridge 3-1 on Wednesday night in a dismal showing at the Matadome, the Gauchos will try to pick up the pieces and move forward.
“We were outplayed in every facet of the game,” UCSB men’s volleyball Head Coach Ken Preston said of his Gauchos after the CSUN loss.
Santa Barbara will look to turn things around in Fort Wayne, Ind. this weekend, where it will take on Indiana-Purdue of Fort Wayne. The first match is scheduled for tonight at 7, and the second will take place the same time on Sunday evening.
“[IPFW] redshirted both their best players last year. They didn’t come up on the charts in the top 15 this week, but I think they will end up there,” Preston said. “I think they are an awfully good team.”
Senior outside hitter Jeff Ptak, freshman outside hitter Angel Ruiz-Rivera and senior middle blocker Arcangel Ruiz are the leaders of the potent Mastodons team. Ptak has recorded over 1,000 kills in his career at IPFW and is entering his final year after taking a medical redshirt last season. Ruiz-Rivera was a member of the 2000 Puerto Rico Junior National Team that won a silver medal. Ruiz has recorded 861 kills in his career, almost half of them coming a year ago when he registered 416. Ruiz-Rivera and Ruiz are two of a number of Puerto Ricans on the team.
“IPFW has a lot of Puerto Rican kids who traditionally are very good players and know the game real well and are firey,” Preston said.
UCSB enters the match on a three-game slide, with its last win coming a week ago against Pacific. But through the hard times, Santa Barbara has been able to find a reliable setter in freshman Dane Jensen who has already recorded 181 assists. Sophomore outside hitter Nate Wack leads the Gauchos with 57 kills. UCSB will need all its weapons this weekend, traveling across the country for the first time this year.
“Since ’88, we’ve probably been to IPFW six or seven times. It’s a good trip; the fans are really appreciative, and they appreciate good volleyball. They put on a nice show, so it’s a good trip for the guys,” Preston said.
Sunday’s game will be televised in Indiana on the NBC affiliate, giving the Gauchos a chance to show the Midwest their talent. This trip will also provide the coaching staff with a chance to get a feel for their younger players on the team.
“[The trip] gives us a chance to look [at] a couple of guys on this trip because it’s a non-league game.”