One year ago, Villanova beat Temple in four sets in the Big 5 tournament. This season was a different story, as the Owls downed the defending champion Wildcats in three straight sets at The Palestra on Friday.
With the win, the Owls improve to 3-1 against teams that made the 2015 NCAA tournament.
Temple took control early winning the first set 25-18. Junior outside hitter Irem Asci was the key in Temple’s offense. She was targeted early and often, finishing the game with 32 attack attempts, 11 more than any other Owl. In the first set, Asci had seven of her 14 kills. Asci also finished with another double-double, adding 10 digs.
Another big factor for Temple in Friday’s win was service points. The team had nine service aces, and took advantage of the Wildcats’ six service errors. Junior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz and junior setter Kyra Coundourides each led with three aces. Fittingly, a service ace by Asci ended the match.
Defensively, sophomore middle blocker Iva Deak and senior middle blocker Kirsten Overton led Temple with six and four blocks respectively. Sophomore libero Mia Heirakuji anchored the back row, along with help from Asci, finishing with 12 digs.
The Owls look to claim the Big 5 title for the second time in three years when they take on La Salle and Penn tomorrow morning. They play at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Tom Gola Arena on La Salle’s campus.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.