Santa Barbara must get on the road again.
This time, the men’s volleyball team will travel to Westwood to face UCLA in Pauley Pavillion tonight at 7.
With the capacity to hold twice as many spectators as the Thunderdome, an arena even larger than Rob Gym, Pauley Pavillion poses a unique obstacle for the Gauchos.
“We’re going to be on the road and playing in a big game,” UCSB Head Coach Kenny Preston said.
To make the transition from the relatively small Rob Gym to a much larger Pauley Pavillion a little easier, the Gauchos practiced passing in the Thunderdome Monday morning. But the change in settings isn’t the only obstacle UCSB will face tonight.
#1 UCLA is 6-2 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play and 11-2 overall. The Bruins are coming off a quick 28-30, 30-18, 30-18, 30-24 victory over the University of San Diego, a Division III team. UCLA’s only losses have been at the hands of Stanford, who has also defeated the Gauchos, and Long Beach State, a team that UCSB has yet to play.
While UCLA Head Coach Al Scates has been fumbling around with his lineup all season, the Bruins can rely on freshman opposite Steve Klosterman who is leading the team with 169 kills. Juniors middle blocker Paul Johnson and outside hitter Kris Kraushaar are hitting .463 and .424, respectively. Additionally, the Bruins go to senior middle blocker Chris Pena, who, although short for the position, provides a threat with his quick approach and competitive drive.
Defensively, UCLA is led by senior libero Adam Shrader who has 109 digs on the season, 47 more than then next Bruin. At the net, Johnson and Pena provide the biggest threats, with 41 and 30 total stuff blocks, respectively.
This season the Bruins have been without junior outside hitter Jonathan Acosta who has just returned to the court last week after recovering from appendicitis. Acosta, who led UCLA with 371 kills for 3.75 kills per game, will be thrown in the mix against Santa Barbara.
UCSB is coming off a three-game sweep over USC.
“This gives us confidence going into the UCLA match,” Preston said.
Yet, the Gauchos are careful not to be too confident, especially when going on the road.
“Different teams, [mean] different everything,” Preston said.