In its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action of the year, the UCSB men’s volleyball team will host University of Hawaii tonight and tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. in Rob Gym.
The Warriors did not compete in the UCSB/Elephant Bar Collegiate Invitational and will meet the Gauchos (3-1 overall) for the first time this year.
With his entire team healthy, UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston has an array of options at all positions. While Preston has been shuffling players in and out of games so far this season, a definite lineup has yet to be set in stone, especially at the middle blocker position.
“I think our middles are pretty interchangeable,” Preston said. “I don’t have a fear of starting any of those guys.”
At the middle blocker position is senior Justin Adams and juniors Alejandro Parra and Michael Kennedy. Parra and Kennedy have been sharing court time opposite Adams.
After a weekend of tournament play ridden with serving errors, the Gauchos have spent considerable time at the service line this week in practice.
“We need to serve tough,” Preston said.
Hawaii (2-1 overall) beat defending national champion Lewis University in five games to win the Outrigger Hotels Volleyball Invitational championship last weekend.
Warrior sophomore outside hitter Pedro Azenha was named the Outrigger Invitational most valuable player after recording a team-high 33 kills, but he will not compete against the Gauchos due to an ankle injury.
The Warriors are coming into tonight’s match holding a 36-19 all-time record against Santa Barbara. Currently on a two-match winning streak against UCSB, Hawaii beat the Gauchos 3-1 the last time the teams met.
Hawaii junior middle blocker Delano Thomas finished the 2003 season 11th in the nation in attacking percentages (.446). Warrior freshman setter Brian Beckwith was one of the most highly recruited setters in the country, having been a member of the 2003 CIF championship team.
“Hawaii is always a very physical team,” Preston said. “We can’t be tired going into the series because it’s going to be tough matches back-to-back.”