Rob Gym play host to the final Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men’s volleyball game of the regular season, in which senior middle blocker Justin Adams will be honored prior to #8 UCSB’s showdown with #3 UCLA tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.
The last time the two teams met, the Bruins defeated Santa Barbara 3-1 in Los Angeles. Freshman opposite Steve Klosterman finished with a career-high 24 kills against the Gauchos. UCLA is coming off wins over Northridge and Brigham Young University; teams that have both defeated Santa Barbara this season.
UCSB, on the other hand, is in a three-match slump having lost three road matches in the past week. Last time the Gauchos met UCLA, setters freshman Bryan Berman and sophomore Dane Jensen shared time on the court, recording 26 and 24 assists respectively. Additionally, Santa Barbara was without sophomore opposite Evan Patak, who consistently leads the Gauchos in kills. In that match, UCLA out-hit UCSB in every frame, but the first, in which Santa Barbara clinched its only win. The key to a Gaucho victory, therefore, is in the attack.
Santa Barbara is now in a position to set up a solid offense against the Bruins with Patak and sophomore Kawika Burdine now in the Gaucho mix. Junior libero Aaron Mansfield continually keeps balls in play for Santa Barbara, but more Gauchos need to step up on defense in the back row to keep hard Bruin hits as attempts rather than kills. UCSB can rely on junior middle blocker Michael Kennedy to set up a solid block against Bruin middle blockers Chris Pena and Paul Johnson, both of whom have quick arms. Another Bruin to look out for is outside hitter JT Wenger, who finished with 20 kills against the Gauchos in their last meeting.
UCLA and UCSB have both clinched berths in the MPSF Tournament. Stanford lost to University of the Pacific, putting Irvine one game ahead of them in the race for the last playoff spot. The Anteaters must defeat Northridge tomorrow night to clinch that spot.