On the same night Southern Methodist clinched the American Athletic Conference regular season title, Temple clinched second place after defeating Tulsa 3-0 Friday.
The Owls, who finished the game with a 31.1 percent kill rate, got contributions from sophomore outside hitters Irem Asc, who totaled 17 kills, and Izzy Rapacz and junior middle blocker Kirsten Overton, who combined for 21 kills.
“We had a gameplan, and we stuck to it well,” Overton said. “Scouting Tulsa was important. We did a really good job figuring out who was doing what, who had who. That was really good on our part.”
Temple controlled the first set, not trailing in the frame and winning the set 25-18. In the set, the Owls also had a game high 21 kills and held Tulsa to 10.
The second set had 12 ties and seven lead changes. Temple took control after the set was tied 20-20, winning 25-22.
“I thought we were a little too lax serving the ball in the second set and we did a really good job serving in the first set,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “It really allowed Tulsa to run their offense a little more efficiently. The second set could have gone either way, that’s how tight it was, but we made the adjustments we had to and really executed.”
Temple controlled the third set until Tulsa went on a run to narrow the lead from 23-17 to 23-20.
Ganesharatnam called a timeout and the Owls won two of the next three points to win the set 25-21 and the match 3-0.
“A timeout can do a lot,” Rapacz said. “It can definitely calm you down, and you get a chance to go over the plays, and go over what we need to do to finish the set. And we executed.”
Temple’s win and Connecticut’s loss means the Owls have at least clinched a tie of second place in The American.
But Connecticut’s to Southern Methodist eliminated Temple from having a chance to be co-champions of the conference’s regular season.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re second, third, or fourth,” Rapacz said. “If SMU is first, we’re gonna treat them like we do every other team. We’re gonna come expecting the best from [SMU] and we want to come out strong physically and mentally.”
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @_kevinschaeffer