Coming in with a road victory under its belt for the first time this season, the UCSB men’s volleyball team looks to keep its momentum going tonight when it travels to No. 7 UCLA.

Having already lost twice earlier in the season to the Bruins in Santa Barbara, the Gauchos plan to return the favor to UCLA and beat them on its home court.

“Beating them at their own gym would be even better for us and it would be a huge motivator for us in our next match,” senior outside hitter Miles Evans said.

UCSB enters tonight’s game at 6-11 overall and 4-9 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, currently in 10th place. Santa Barbara won its first road game of the season last week against USC to snap a four-game skid, and despite still being 1-7 on the road, the Gauchos are fully prepared to enter the John Wooden Center now that each game bares postseason implications.

“It’s always fun to go to another team’s house and take it to them, and show we’re not where we should be in the standings,” senior middle blocker Dylan Davis said. “We can handle any team we play against.”

Despite UCSB not being short of confidence, the Bruins enter with plenty of momentum themselves after sweeping two conference opponents in dominating fashion last week. With a record of 11-8 overall and 7-6 in the MPSF, the Bruins handed Pepperdine its first home loss of the season after compiling a season-high .522 hitting percentage to defeat USC as well.

In the first game between these two teams, the Bruins capitalized on key substitutions made after the second set to overcome a 0-2 deficit and steal a tough five-set match away from the Gauchos. UCLA again came out victorious in its second meeting of the season, defeating Santa Barbara handily in four sets back in January.

Nonetheless, UCSB has risen to the occasion when up against high caliber teams in the MPSF this year, taking many of its opponents down to the wire.

“We know that we can beat any team in our league because we’ve been playing with the top teams really close,” Evans said. “We’re really stoked because we want to show we can beat them.”

The Gauchos will have to be alert when the Bruins serve as UCLA is first in the league in service aces per set with 1.52. More importantly, the Gauchos will have to keep focus as the game progresses and limit their errors in crucial situations.

Tonight’s match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.


A version of this article appeared on page 6 of February 27th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.