Tonight the #8 UCSB men’s volleyball team opens up a four-game homestand with the first of two nonconference matches against #1 Division II opponent Cal Baptist (7-6 overall).
With a two game winning streak already under its belt, the Gauchos (8-8 overall, 6-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF)) look to take a break from Division I opponents and will try to get over the .500 hump for the first time this year.
“I think we just want to consistently play good volleyball,” freshman setter Max Klineman said. “It’s not ever fun to lose, but if we’re playing well … we can beat anyone in the league.”
Santa Barbara is currently engaged in a three-way tie with Cal State Northridge and UCLA for sixth place in the MPSF.
The twice-defending Division II champion Lancers will try to challenge UCSB’s recent success when they head to Santa Barbara this weekend. Cal Baptist’s own three-game winning streak was snapped at the hands of Loyola-Chicago earlier last week. It rebounded from the loss to complete a sweep of Lewis University, who the Gauchos will also face next week.
“I think we’re treating them just like any other team,” Klineman said. “We know that they’re good and capable of defeating anyone. We definitely need to play our game … If we just play fundamental volleyball we can win our games.”
In the win over Lewis, junior opposite Shamsu Awudu had 18 kills the second night in a row and committed no hitting errors en route to a .783 hitting clip for the Lancers. His teammates, senior outside hitter Seidu Ajanako had 11 kills and junior middle blocker Urs Gunthor hit .800 on the night.
“It was good to see the team respond after a disappointing performance last night,” Cal Baptist Head Coach Ryan McGuyre told the Lancers athletics website. “Shamsu came up big tonight. … [He] and Seidu led the way for us again. They’ve done that for us all year so far, and I expect them to continue.”
Santa Barbara’s current home record is posing a major threat to the Lancer’s drive for a win. The Gauchos have gone 6-4 in the past 10 matches and look to strengthen the win column in the next four home games. If they can pull off a win tonight, Santa Barbara will also be in the midst of its longest winning streak of the season.
“I think it’s great that we’re playing home for so long,” Klineman said. “We definitely play better at home and our confidence is up.”
The first serve is set for 7:05 tonight in Rob Gym.