The Owls celebrate three seniors’ volleyball careers.
Seniors outside hitter Collin Wallace and setters Liz Prang and Rikia Trischuk all paused for flowers, gifts and a picture before Temple (8-20, 4-11 A-10) tried its hand against Atlantic Ten Conference rival Xavier (19-10, 11-4 A-10) for Senior Day on Sunday at McGonigle Hall.
On Nov. 11, the Owls defeated Duquesne in five sets. However, the Owls would come up short against the Musketeers in the final game of the season for both teams.
Xavier secured its spot as the second seed in the A-10 tournament while Temple’s season drew to a close after losing the match 3-0, in straight sets, 25-17, 25-19, 25-22.
Wallace, the Owls’ second leading scorer of the year, posted seven kills and 10 digs in her last game of her career. The West Chester, Pa. native registered 298 kills on the year and played in all but five of the 101 sets.
Entering her second season as an Owl after transferring from Juniata College for her junior season, Wallace saw her hitting percentage increase from .053 in 2010 to .149 this year. She also improved from 152 digs last season to 292 this year, good for second on the team.
Coach Bakeer Ganes and Wallace herself attribute these improvements to one aspect of Wallace’s game not visible on a stat sheet, her attitude.
“Coming in from the spring until now, [Wallace] is 10 times better of a player,” Ganes said. “Her hitting, decision making, passing, reading the game, she became a more all-around player.”
“It was mainly because of her attitude,” Ganes added. “She will be the first one to admit that.”
Wallace indeed was the first to admit her attitude had to change.
“Realizing that I was going to have a big role on the team, I knew I needed to step up my attitude a lot,” Wallace said.
Wallace started in 15 matches last season when the Owls went 4-25 overall with a 1-14 conference record. Entering this season, in which she started every match, Wallace said she knew she had to improve.
“I knew I needed to change in order for the team to be successful,” Wallace said. “Since I was going to be a big part [of the season] I could hurt the team a lot if I did not change my attitude.”
Wallace’s improvements were enough to earn her a spot on the Big 5 All-Tournament Team in the beginning of the season. Wallace added to her list of accolades in being named A-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 10, something no Temple player accomplished last year.
“[Wallace] has definitely grown as a player and grown into her own shoes,” Prang said. “Getting an opportunity to play and start the season really helped her develop as a player.”
“She played awesome for us this season,” Prang added. “You really could not expect anything else from her. She was part of the reason why we did so well this year compared to last year.”
Prang, is the only Temple senior to have played all four years at Temple, as Wallace along with Trischuk were transfer students. Statistically, Prang’s best season was her junior year in which she placed second on the team, behind Trischuk, in assists with 133.
Trischuk, who led the team in assists last season, was plagued by injuries both at the end of the 2010 season and the start of this year.
“The senior season was hard in general because I have been injured the entire season,” Trischuk said. “There is always the ‘What if I had not got injured,’ but at the end of the day it is just how it turned out.”
Freshman setter Tiffany Connatser filled in for Trischuk this season, providing a team-leading 965 assists. Sophomore outside hitter Gabriella Matautia recorded a team-high 325 kills and provided 22-serving aces.
While the Owls finished the year with a losing record, they improved by four total wins, including three conference wins in Ganes’ first full season as coach with the team. While he said that the team did improve from last year, he recognizes the need for improvement.
“There are certain things I could have done better,” Ganes said. “I am learning, too. I made mistakes, but that’s normal. You have to learn from your mistakes and move on so that you don’t repeat them again.”
“[Ganes] really came in and he understands the fact that something doesn’t change overnight,” Trischuk said. “He has been really patient with us and he has fought for our program and he has really made a difference.”
Ganes, sporting a new mustache to support ‘Movember’ to promote cancer awareness, is already looking forward to next year. He laughed when asked about whether the preparations for next year would begin after the players had some time off.
“Well we are off tomorrow but we will practice again on Tuesday,” Ganes said. “You can’t go one hundred percent and then just stop all of the sudden. Our goal next year has to be to make the A-10 tournament at least. Anything else would be disappointing.”
Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com.