Payback will be the mindset for the No. 8 UCSB men’s volleyball team this Friday at Rob Gym as they prepare to host No. 5 UCLA in a rematch of the first game of the season. After losing to the Bruins in five sets in the first meeting, the Gauchos will finally have a shot at redeeming themselves in a game they have had circled on their calendar since the last time the two teams played.
“The first match we played them was our very first game of the year and it was a close loss; we lost to them in five sets [after] being up 2-0 in that match,” sophomore outside hitter Kevin Donohue said. “Ever since that match has ended, we’ve had our sights for the game on Friday; we know we’re definitely a team capable of beating UCLA.”
Last week’s defeat against Cal State Northridge ended the Gauchos’ three-game win streak and dropped them to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the MPSF season, with each of the losses going the full five sets. UCLA enters the match at 5-3 overall and is tied with UCSB and five other teams for fourth place in the conference after losing to UC Irvine on Tuesday.
In its first encounter of the season, UCSB was unable to counter key substitutions made by the Bruins after taking a 2-0 lead in the game, a move that caught Santa Barbara off guard and ended up being the deciding factor in the match. UCLA came back from the deficit and outlasted the Gauchos in the final set to earn the victory.
Santa Barbara will come more prepared defensively to face the Bruins this time around in a critical conference matchup with potential postseason implications down the line for both teams. Offensively, UCSB will rely on the duo of sophomore outside hitter Austin Kingi, who leads the team in kills with 53 on the season, and sophomore Matt Marsh, who is second with 50 kills.
UCSB will also look to its passing game to facilitate scoring opportunities to its hitters and throw off the UCLA defense.
“We know from the service line we’re a great team and we can pass the ball well and get all our hitters going offensively; that’s going to be our biggest key against UCLA,” Donohue said. “The last four, six days, our biggest focus has been the serving pass and playing together, playing with fire and emotion, and getting ourselves mentally prepared to play UCLA.”
Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Rob Gym.
A version of this article appeared on page 5 of January 18th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.