Sunday, December 15

Rain in Santa Barbara keeps men’s volleyball home at Pauley

Sophomore quick hitter Nick Vogel and the rest of the Bruins have been working on improving their blocking. The Bruins are currently last in the MSPF in blocks per set.

Sophomore quick hitter Nick Vogel and the rest of the Bruins have been working on improving their blocking. The Bruins are currently last in the MSPF in blocks per set. Maya Sugarman

Despite being an indoor sport, men’s volleyball is not immune to the effects of mother nature.

Because of a leak in UC Santa Barbara’s Robertson Gym, the men’s volleyball match scheduled to be played there tonight has been moved to Pauley Pavilion, and the Bruins will have to wait even longer to prove themselves on the road this season.

Regardless, the No. 10 Bruins (1-4, 0-2 MPSF) will still be looking for their first conference win when they face off against No. 11 UCSB (1-4, 1-1) as they rapidly fall in the conference standings.

“I think that starting out with two losses, and more losses in the tournament too, some people are already starting to count us out,” sophomore quick hitter Nick Vogel said. “We’re already a little bit lower in the rankings for our conference, but we’re a really strong team this year ““ a bunch of guys who are really excited about getting better.”

And for the Bruins to get better, players and coaches said after Monday’s practice, the key is blocking and serving.

“It’s something we feel like we should be good at,” Vogel said of blocking. “We’re a big team, bunch of tall guys, bunch of really athletic guys.”

Vogel added that the Bruins’ quick hitters, including himself, have been getting lots of feedback from their quick hitter-heavy coaching staff.

Coach Al Scates said that the Bruins’ serving has been too soft, allowing easy passing opportunities for the opposition.

“We were serving easy, too easy, and Pepperdine didn’t have any trouble passing them,” Scates said. “So we were going back to ripping today. We’ll take a few more errors but we want to see a lot more bad passes from our opponents.”

Scates added that his team was scoring on only 20 percent of their serves and is hoping to increase that rate to about 35 percent.

UCLA’s blocking will have to focus on UCSB’s junior outside hitter Jeff Menzel, who leads the conference with 5.29 kills per set and is the conference’s leading scorer with 5.98 points per set.

The UCLA block is currently last in the conference, despite possessing a pair of experienced quick hitters in Vogel and Thomas Amberg, both of whom played with the Men’s Junior National Team this summer, and Kyle Caldwell, a 6-foot-8-inch setter who gives the Bruins an additional blocking and attacking option when in the front row.

Scates added that the Bruins need to improve the outcomes of deuce sets, having dropped a set to USC by just two points last week.

“That needs to be our territory,” Scates said of deuce sets. “We let one slip here against USC the other night that we should have had, and that hurt us.”

Senior setter Kevin Ker added that a win tonight against UCSB would be a major confidence boost for a Bruin squad still reeling from a pair of tough home losses last week.

“If we win (today) it’s going to be a huge stepping stone towards the beginning of our season,” Ker said.

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