After the volleyball team beat cross-town rival LaSalle on Friday, the Owls were unable to finish the weekend undefeated, losing to Atlantic Ten Conference powerhouse Saint Louis in straight sets.
The Owls (7–17, 3–8 A-10) showed early on that they could compete with the Billikens (12–9, 8–3 A-10) who came into the game ranked third in the A-10. The first set consisted of 10 ties and six lead changes before the set was eventually won by Saint Louis 25–21. The rest of the match would prove to be more one sided as Temple dropped the next two sets 25–14, 25–10.
After losing a close first set, the Owls seemed to have their spirits dampened for the rest of the match.
“Energy definitely was lacking towards the end,” senior outside hitter Collin Wallace said. “We came out strong and I think after losing that first set we kind of lost a lot of momentum because we wanted it so bad and we were never really able to regain it that well.”
“The second and third sets were totally different,” coach Bakeer Ganes added. “They were frustrating for the players, for the coaches, for everybody besides Saint Louis it was pretty frustrating.”
After an almost even first set, the Owls were unable to match Saint Louis in the second set in which there were only two ties and two lead changes. The third set was much of the same for Temple, who never led in the final set.
The Owls had trouble matching up with the Billikens and struggled to win points and defend the serve against a taller Saint Louis team.
“It was not so much that our offense didn’t work, the thing that did not work was our serve receive,” Ganes said. “It was a product of our poor serve receive that we became so predictable in our offense.”
Against LaSalle two days prior, the game was completely different for Temple. The Owls raced out to a two-set lead before dropping the next two sets to the Explorers. The decisive fifth set was won by the Owls however, as they rebounded to take the set 15–7 and win the “Battle for Broad Street.”
“We showed a lot of heart in our fifth set versus La Salle and [Ganes] told us in the locker room that we had been missing that in our losing streak,” sophomore outside hitter Gabriella Matautia said. “I think we just need to get that heart back.”
In the cross-town rivalry match against La Salle, four Owls recorded double-doubles and the team registered a hitting percentage of .186. Against Saint Louis, no Temple player accomplished the feat and the team hit -.020 percent on the day.
“Because we had so many errors we held ourselves back,” Matautia said. “I think it was more of us killing ourselves. We gave them a lot of easy balls to keep them in system and we weren’t controlling the ball well on our side and we were making a lot of errors.”
The drop-off from the La Salle game was also experienced by Matautia personally, who recorded 14 kills and 12 digs in the win, but was only able to register six kills against a taller Saint Louis team, who blocked down 10 shots at the net. Four Temple players recorded more errors than kills and freshmen setter Tiffany Connatser registered 16 of the Owls’ 17 assists in the game. The Billikens only had one player with more errors than kills and managed to tally 38 assists on the day.
Temple now sits at eighth place in the A-10 standings and will look to improve its position this weekend against Fordham and Rhode Island.
“We are still in the hunt for a playoff ticket,” Ganes said. “Even though this was a very frustrating loss, it’s still just a loss, so I would not worry about it too much. One thing this team never does is give up.”
Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com.