A winning streak will end this week.
No. 4 UCLA men’s volleyball (10-2, 2-0 MPSF) will face No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (11-3) Wednesday night at Robertson Gym in Isla Vista, California. The meeting marks the second matchup of the season between the Bruins and the Gauchos.
UCSB has won eight consecutive games since its loss to UCLA, where the Bruins defeated the Gauchos in straight sets at Pauley Pavilion. UCLA held UCSB to a .183 hitting percentage, forced 15 errors, hit for .475 and recorded six aces.
The Gauchos, led by outside hitter Corey Chavers, who has posted a team-high 198 kills so far this season, have averaged a .340 hitting percentage, 8.2 blocks and 7.4 aces in their eight-game win streak.
UCLA coach John Speraw said the Bruins will be facing a much stronger team than the one they defeated in January.
“Santa Barbara is clearly better,” Speraw said. “They’ve made some real improvements and they play really well at home. For us, the adjustments are going to be just trying to figure out what offense we’re going to go with based on the injuries we have.”
UCLA has used five different starting lineups in each of its last five matches, due to injuries to redshirt junior opposite Brandon Rattray and senior outside hitter Dylan Missry – who have recorded 113 and 88 kills this season, respectively.
The Bruins have averaged a .338 hitting percentage, 9.2 blocks and 6.8 aces across their five-game win streak. Junior outside hitter Austin Matautia, who led UCLA with 13 blocks against No. 8 BYU (4-4, 0-2 MPSF) Saturday night, said the Bruins have adjusted their mindset in matches since their Midwest road trip.
“I think one of the new things that our team has started to do is we have these two modes we go into when we play, side-out mode and scoring mode,” Matautia said. “It’s something we established when we were in Chicago and ever since then, I think it’s worked pretty well.”
UCLA has dropped the first set of games to its opponents in four of its last five matches, despite recent success on the offensive end.
Senior setter Micah Ma’a said the Bruins will work to erase this trend as the team becomes more familiar with new lineups and further develops chemistry.
“A lot of these past games we’ve had to go out there with a new lineup that we’ve actually never practiced with before, so it’s kind of an adjustment period those first sets,” Ma’a said. “Hopefully now that we have some guys back and we’re a little more comfortable with the 6-2 we’ll be able to get off to a quicker start and try to put some pressure on them early.”