Having already clinched a spot in the postseason, the No. 7 UCSB men’s volleyball team looks to build on its current seven-game winning streak tonight against No. 6 Cal Baptist. Only one game behind fifth place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings, the Gauchos will attempt to gain ground on the rest of the conference in their final road game of the regular season.
UCSB comes into tonight’s match with an overall record of 14-12 and a 10-10 mark in conference. Since returning back home in March after a month-long road trip, the Gauchos have been one of the hottest teams in the MPSF, winning nine out of their last 10 games, including seven straight.
The Gauchos are coming off two impressive victories against the University of Hawaii on the road this past weekend, defeating the Warriors 3-1 on Friday and 3-0 on Saturday. UCSB has had difficulty on the road and entered last weekend’s series with a 2-8 mark away from home, but has now won four of its last five road games.
Meanwhile, Cal Baptist enters with an identical record to the Gauchos after defeating Pepperdine in its last conference game. However, the game will be nothing more than a friendly scrimmage for the Lancers, who are ineligible for the postseason this year.
In the previous meeting between these two teams back in early February, the back-and-forth contest went the full five sets, with the Gauchos prevailing in a thrilling final game after being down earlier in the frame. It has been UCSB’s only five-set win this year.
Three Gauchos had double-digit kills in that game including senior middle blocker Dylan Davis and sophomore opposite Matt Marsh, who both had a team-high 13 kills. Davis finished with an incredibly efficient .571 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Kevin Donohue also provided energy off the bench and contributed seven kills in the match.
Despite winning the game, the Gauchos still had trouble defending the Lancer’s two Brazilians on the left side of the court. Sophomore outside hitter Guilherme Koepp had 21 kills in the game and hit for a .455 clip, second-best on the team. UCSB was more adept at containing the Lancers’ other Brazilian outside hitter, senior Levi Cabral, who had 16 kills but hit only .171.
Santa Barbara still has to account for Cabral on the service line, as he ranks third in the conference in service aces per set with 0.41, and his 4.14 kill average is fourth in the league overall.
Nevertheless, UCSB will rely on team captain Davis to provide offense and defense for the team. This season, Davis is second on the team in kills with 186, second in hitting percentage with a .467 clip and has totaled 133 blocks, the most of any Gaucho on the team.
Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.