Fresh off its second Mountain Pacific Sports Federation win of the year Saturday against #4 BYU, the UCSB men’s volleyball team hosts #12 UCLA at The Rob tonight at 7.

The victory over BYU gives Santa Barbara momentum heading into a rematch with UCLA.

“I thought [the BYU match] was the best set match we had all year,” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. “I don’t think we took good care of our opportunities last time against UCLA. I thought we competed right with them, but there were a couple plays we didn’t make, which has been haunting us all year.”

The Bruins swept UCSB in three games at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 7. The Gauchos were out-blocked 14.5-5 and only hit .229 in the match.

UCLA (6-7, 3-7 in the MPSF) is only half a match ahead of Santa Barbara (5-10, 2-7) in the MPSF. A Gaucho win would catapult them over the Bruins in the standings.

The Bruins enter the match losers of six of their last nine. The Bruins’ only wins during that stretch came against the University of Southern California, UC San Diego and UCSB, the bottom-dwellers in the MPSF.

Junior quick hitter Chris Pe–a leads the Bruins in kills with 108 in MPSF play this year. Pe–a dominated USC last weekend with 16 kills and two block assists on a .727 hitting percentage.

“I think we can attack with a little better offense if we pass the ball, plus we have to take better swings on high balls; they are pretty good blockers,” Preston said.

Senior outside hitter Keith Busam leads the Gauchos’ attack. Busam registered a team-high 24 kills over the weekend against BYU. Heading into 2003, Busam amassed 94 kills in three years. The senior has been on a tear as of late, knocking down a career-high 112 kills this season.

Freshman setter Bart Kowalski has claimed a spot in the starting lineup with his 73 assists against BYU.

“Busam has been having a good run and Bart played a good match,” Preston said. “I thought we sided out well because our setter Bart followed the game plan, and he set as consistently as he has all year, so our hitters were in a pretty good rhythm. We also got good rescue sets from Busam on high balls on bad passes.”

The match against UCLA tonight will mark the third of 10 straight MPSF matches for UCSB. With only two league wins, Santa Barbara needs to accumulate victories in a hurry to get back into the playoff picture.

“Eight wins has gotten into the playoffs before, but I don’t know if that will be good enough this year or not,” Preston said. “We just have to take it one game at a time. I don’t think we can start worrying about the playoffs yet.”