Back in the comfort of Rob Gym, the UCSB men’s volleyball team hosts Irvine and Santa Cruz tonight and tomorrow night, respectively, at 7:05.

In his second year, Irvine Head Coach John Speraw is coming off a 20-11 overall and 12-8 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation record in the 2003 season, the best in Anteater history. Speraw served as assistant coach for the 2000 national champion UCLA Bruins and has since led the Anteaters to their first MPSF semifinals.

Coming off a 3-1 loss to Northridge, the Irvine attack is led by senior outside hitter Spencer Bemus, who had 18 kills for the Anteaters. Freshman setters Brett Reid and Brian Thorton who notched 29 and 31 assists, respectively. Senior libero Greg Ford dug 10 balls for the Anteaters (5-6, 2-4 in MPSF). The Irvine lineup is an uneven mix of freshmen and seniors, but the #19 Anteaters have upset #13 Pacific, a team that defeated #5 Santa Barbara.

#5 Santa Cruz, a Division III team, has lost to every Division I team it has seen this year. The Banana Slugs (5-4, 5-0 in DIII matches) are relying on momentum, having won their last three matches. Division III #1 UC Davis lost 3-0 to Santa Cruz last week, but the Slugs lost to Irvine 3-0 on Jan. 24. The Slugs will take on three MPSF powerhouses in a four-day road trip this weekend.

Santa Barbara is coming off a devastating two-loss road trip, but will play all but one February match in Rob Gym, where they have gone 2-2 in MPSF and 5-2 overall. The Gaucho attack is guided by sophomore setter Dane Jensen, who has continuously recorded match-highs in assists. Sophomore opposite Evan Patak leads in kills, whereas middle blockers junior Michael Kennedy and senior Justin Adams produce a tough wall at the net with numerous control and stuff blocks.