Following its loss in a five-set thriller to No. 2 Long Beach State last Friday, the No. 10 UCSB men’s volleyball team looks ahead to a pair of road games this weekend at No. 3 BYU. The Gauchos climbed a spot in the national rankings despite the loss as they now sit at 4-2 in MPSF play, 8-3 overall.
The loss against the 49ers ended UCSB’s three-game winning streak. Awaiting Santa Barbara next is another prominent opponent in the Cougars.
BYU is tied with the Gauchos for fourth place in the conference standings with a 4-2 record, 6-2 overall. The matchup between Santa Barbara and BYU has been even in recent years, with the teams splitting matches by a mark of 2-2 in the past two years.
“It’s always a huge bummer losing a close one like that, but we know we are a good team who can bounce back,” redshirt junior libero Parker Boehle said. “Now we have a great chance to take down one of the top teams in the country at their home court.
In the Gauchos’ last four MPSF meetings, Boehle has been steady defensively, averaging seven digs per match. The libero has started in most of the team’s matches since the beginning of league play, but also splits time with his little brother, sophomore libero Hayden Boehle. The siblings combined for 13 digs in the Long Beach match.
UCSB is heading on the road with strong confidence after its intense match against LBSU. Despite its inability to maintain its lead in the final set of the match, Santa Barbara knows it cannot allow the loss to linger as there will be opportunities to compete against the nation’s top teams throughout the remainder of the season.
Defeating the Cougars on the road will be no easy feat, considering the elevation of the school sits at 4,630 feet, significantly higher than the 46-foot elevation of UCSB’s campus. The thin Utah air poses a physical challenge that is difficult to prepare for.
“Provo is the toughest place to play in our league and BYU is always ranked in the top three,” Head Coach Rick Mclaughlin said. “They have a real home court advantage, but coming off last Friday’s battle I think we’ll be ready to compete hard.”
The Gauchos were well aware that they had a great chance to win the match against Long Beach State, and players were vocal that they made too many mistakes and gifted their opponents too many points.
“We have to make fewer errors towards the end of games,” Parker Boehle said. That’s something we are working on going forward.”
UCSB’s 26 hitting errors last Friday set a season-high, it was also the team’s first time with over 20 since the first week of the season. Additionally, the Gauchos made three errors –two hitting and one service —which occurred while Long Beach scored the last five points of the match.
The Gauchos are aiming to break away from the pack of 4-2 teams in the MPSF standings this week while playing at BYU, and the pair of road games are sure to provide a stern test for Santa Barbara.
UCSB faces BYU this Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. at Smith Fieldhouse. The two teams play again on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the same time and location.