They have already done it this season, and they believe they can do it again.

The #7 Gaucho men’s volleyball team will travel to The Pyramid tomorrow night in hopes of upsetting #2 Long Beach State in the first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) playoffs.

Santa Barbara upset the formally #3-ranked 49ers Jan. 27 in Rob Gym in a sweeping three-game victory, sending the Beach home with one of their four MPSF losses and five total losses this season. However, Long Beach returned the favor April 10, sending UCSB packing after a four-game loss at The Pyramid, the same venue Santa Barbara will be playing in this weekend.

While the wounds are still fresh for the Gauchos, who have not won a match since April 2 against University of the Pacific in Rob Gym, Long Beach capped off its regular season with a win over visiting UC San Diego.

The difference between the Gauchos’ two meetings with the Beach lies in UCSB’s offensive attack. During its win, Santa Barbara hit a collective .424 on the night, holding the 49ers to a .337 clip. However, during its defeat, UCSB hit only .260 to Long Beach’s .343.

For sophomore setter Dane Jensen to run an effective offense, the Gauchos must first pass the ball well. Serve-receive proved to be a disaster last weekend in UCSB’s contest with #3 UCLA. The Bruins created offensive difficulties for Santa Barbara; but the Gauchos must put that match aside and focus on serves to come.
With a team full of strong hitting arms, Long Beach should provide UCSB with a tough jump serve.

If sophomore libero Aaron Mansfield and the rest of the serve-receive staff can supply Jensen with quality passes, Santa Barbara should be set on offense. Sophomore opposite Evan Patak pounds the ball down on the right side from both the front and back rows, leading the Gauchos in kills. Additionally, UCSB is solid at the middle and outside positions with a group of attackers who need to avoid making unforced errors.

The biggest problem for the Gauchos will be on defense. Senior outside hitter Scott Touzinsky places fifth all-time in the 49er record books for career kills. He has recorded 20 or more kills on 10 occasions this season alone.

“We better have four good hands on him or we’re going to be in the same situation that we were in [against UCLA],” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said.