The #8 UCSB men’s volleyball team brings its three-match winning streak into Rob Gym tonight as it prepares to host #5 Long Beach.

For the first time this season, the Gauchos’ (9-8 overall, 6-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation [MPSF]) overall record is above .500 and they seek to capture their first winning conference record of the year.

“This winning streak feels good, and we’re doing really well,” junior outside hitter Bryan Berman said. “We just need to focus on our defense to keep it going.”

After defeating UCLA in a sweep last weekend, the 49ers (12-5, 7-4 MPSF) sit one spot above UCSB, which is tied with the Bruins for sixth place in the MPSF. Long Beach snapped its three-match losing streak with the win.

Santa Barbara fueled its own season-high winning streak after defeating NAIA international powerhouse California Baptist University, extending the fourth set to 38 points – the highest number recorded by the Gauchos this year.

“Playing against an international team [like CBU last weekend] is great preparation for facing pressure,” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. “We played really well and we should be prepared to go and face anyone in the future.”

Tonight’s match up against the 49ers will feature two All-American candidates – seniors setter Tyler Hildebrand and outside hitter Robert Tarr, whose 5.45 kills per game lands him fourth in the nation and second in the MPSF. The Gauchos counter with sophomore middle blocker Theo Brunner, who ranks fifth in MPSF with a .430 hitting percentage.

Against UCLA, senior middle blocker Duncan Budinger notched a career-high 24 kills. He leads Long Beach with a .407 hitting clip that ranks eighth in the MPSF.

“The last team we faced was definitely an experience for us,” freshman setter Max Klineman said. “They were the best in their division and now we’re ready to play the next few matches at home, where we like playing in front of our awesome crowd.”

Klineman ranks second in the MPSF and third in the nation with 13.95 assists per game for the Gauchos.

Santa Barbara begins its first of two home conference matches this week, with first serve scheduled for 7:05 p.m.