Sports

Service game helps Owls sweep season series against Connecticut

Temple defeated Connecticut in straight sets Wednesday in McGonigle Hall to claim its third straight victory.

Temple defeated Connecticut in straight sets Wednesday afternoon to claim the season series and win its third straight game.

Temple (15-6, 8-3 American Athletic Conference) was out in front early in the first set, going on a 7-0 run early to take a 12-7 lead on the way to a 25-18 win. Six of the points for the Owls during the set came from attack errors by the Huskies. The Owls’ defense was key to taking the first set, allowing Connecticut to only hit 2.9 percent.

“We blocked really well today, our blocking is something we work on everyday in practice,” junior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz said. “To be able to have good blocking against Connecticut, a big hitting team, it is what led to us getting the win at home.”

In both the second and third sets, neither team held more than a three point lead until Temple scored seven straight points to win the last set 25-19.

“We served pretty well, our serve receive overall worked really well for us,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “There were a couple of times where Connecticut was able to get on runs, but the really good thing for us was limiting those runs to not being big runs. Three or four points in a row was all they were able to get before we were able to side out.”

Junior outside hitter Irem Asci notched another double-double, finishing with 16 kills and 14 digs. Junior setter Kyra Coundourides finished with 39 assists, and also added three kills and two service aces.

Ganesharatnam has been tweaking his lineup during the win streak. He rotated junior middle blocker Janine Simmons and sophomore middle blocker Iva Deak based on offensive and defensive matchups. Senior middle blocker Kirsten Overton has played more back row in recent matches. She finished with five blocks and four kills on Wednesday.

“Playing back row is something I’m used to,” Overton said. “I used to play a lot of doubles tournaments, so I’m used to being a part of serve-receive.”

Temple’s next game is at home Friday against Memphis. Temple already defeated Memphis in five sets earlier in the season. The match will be Temple’s annual Hawaiian night promotion.

Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at kevinschaeffer@temple.edu or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.

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