After back-to-back losses, UCSB men’s volleyball (3-3 overall, 1-2 MPSF) looks to regroup with an away match against conference rival #11 Cal State Northridge (2-4,1-2) tonight at 7p.m. The Gauchos will try to get their MPSF record to .500 in their last match of a four game road trip to start the season.

“We let the guys compete for starting spots in practice this week,” Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said. “It has woken some guys up. I think they’re hungry. If we can come back from this road trip with a 2-2 record, it’s a great start to the season.”

UCSB defeated Northridge all three times the schools faced each other during the preseason. The Gauchos crushed the Matadors in straight sets in their last meeting.

“If we can stop their middle attack, we can be successful,” McLaughlin said. “They’re always a great serving team. But we need to compete. We haven’t had a good competitive level the last two matches.”

After a solid preseason and a win over UC San Diego in their conference opener, the Gauchos have dropped two straight matches on the road, each to MPSF foes. Both losses came in straight sets. So far, the 2011 regular season schedule has not been friendly to the Gauchos, with the first four games of MPSF play coming on the road.

“We haven’t been mentally strong,” senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter said. “We’re physically better than a lot of these teams, but we need to find that sense of urgency. When we start losing motivation, we start getting timid.”

The home opener for the Gauchos is next week as UCSB hosts #1 USC on Wednesday Jan. 26 at the Thunderdome, with the match set to start at 7 p.m.