The volleyball team put on a show for the 1,000 plus students in attendance, overpowering Rider
(2-5) in straight sets.
The crowd was easily the largest the Owls have seen in recent years, as students awaited their
chance at free tickets to the upcoming Penn State vs. Temple football game.
“This is great. I’m pretty sure they came for the tickets, but they did watch a little bit of
volleyball, so hopefully we got them excited,” first-year coach Bakeer Ganes said. “We got
about a thousand people at this match, mid-week. That’s huge and that’s great for the kids.”
“We were really excited because we had so many fans, which is a great start to our season,”
sophomore outside hitter Gabriella Matuatia said.
Matuatia and senior outside hitter Collin Wallace tallied 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Both just
missed out on double-doubles, with Matuatia adding nine digs and five blocks and Wallace
recording eight digs. Freshman middle hitter Alex Schmitt contributed five kills as well.
“What we did is, we really focused on running our middle,” Ganes said. “We wanted to take a
little pressure off the outside, so that went really well.”
The Owls dominated the first two sets, winning 25-18 and 25-16. Temple was up late 20-9
before the Broncs made a late rally, forcing the score to 21-17, before Matuatia and company
closed it out.
The second set had a similar feel, with Temple marching to a quick 9-1 lead. Rider matched
the Owls nearly point for point after that, but were unable to make the set close. Matuatia and
redshirt-sophomore outside hitter Caitlin McMillen knocked home a combined 10 kills in the
set. Freshman outside hitter Jennifer Iacobini turned into the team’s serving specialist, recording
four aces in the set.
With a 2-0 match lead, however, the Owls suddenly found themselves struggling. Rider jumped
out to only their second lead at the time, going up 4-3, and pushing the lead to 13-11. Temple
struggled to cover the Broncs’ blocks, and had miscues on defense and with their passes.
“I do give credit to Rider because they did pick it up, but we definitely stopped moving our feet
and we needed to talk more,” Matuatia said. “As the situation got tougher all we needed to do
was talk to each other.”
After a Temple time-out, the Owls rallied on a quick 4-0 run with good blocking and missed
serves by Rider, but the Broncs stayed close and forcing a tie at 18-18. Another 3-0 run gave the
Owls a late lead, and sophomore Emily Frazer sealed the game with a clutch kill followed by a
timely block to make the score 24-20. A Rider service error ended the set 25-21, and gave the
Owls their first sweep of the season.
“We’re happy we got a win, but the way we won, I think we really need to get a killer instinct as
a team,” Ganes said.
The Owls have three freshmen who are regular starters—including setter Tiffany Connatser,
Schmitt and Iacobini. Inexperience is something the team will have to fight through all season.
“We’re still getting used to wins,” Ganes said. “What we still want to work on is to put a team
like this down when we’re up, and not try to trade points, but that’s a learning process.”
The win brings the team to 3-3, the latest in the season they’ve had a record at .500 for two
“It’s great. I’m having fun, I’m excited and I’m loving the team,” Matuatia said. “We’re just
having a great start to our season.”
Up next for the Owls is a trip to the Lond Island’s Blackbird Invitational over the weekend.
“This was definitely a confidence booster, a win is a win,” Ganes said.
Team Note- Sophomore outside hitter Elyse Burkert has missed the past four matches with an
unknown foot injury suffered shortly after the Temple Invitational. Her time table to return is