The Owls opened their Atlantic Ten Conference schedule with a 3-1 win over Charlotte and a sweep of George Washington.
The brooms were out in North Philadelphia this weekend, as the volleyball team started out the Atlantic Ten Conference season undefeated with a 3-1 win against the Charlotte 49ers and a 3-0 sweep of George Washington.
Friday night’s victory against Charlotte opened up the A-10 portion of the schedule for the Owls. The 49ers couldn’t communicate as well as the tight Temple squad and fell 25-17, 26-24, 19-25 and 25-22. Junior offensive powerhouse Yun Yi Zhang picked up another 23 kills and kept her lead in the NCAA on kills-per-set. Her effort wasn’t un-assisted though, as senior captain Jackie Morrison recorded a double-double with a resounding 42 assists and 12 digs. Junior outside hitter Cayleigh Ashman also had a season-high 10 kills.
“That helped my confidence build a lot,” Ashman said. “Playing Penn State helped me see how we match up against better teams and gives me better idea of how to play.”
Charlotte looked flat the whole game until pushed to the brink. The third set proved the 49ers wouldn’t go down without a fight. Coach Bob Bertucci credited strong blocking and minimal errors to Charlotte’s lone set.
Even though Charlotte took a set from the Owls, the sweep of George Washington proved the tougher matchup, as Temple won by scores of 25-23, 26-24 and 25-23. All three games were closely contested, as both GW and Temple traded points in every game. The biggest lead by any team at any time was just four points.
“I think both matches were very close, and it could have gone either way,” Bertucci said. “We have a great attitude. We have the drive to win, and the ball is just falling for us right now.”
Junior outside hitter Jovana Radojevic had four kills, and junior Jessica Antosz had four of her own. Those two, along with Morrison, showed strong defense up front all game, making key blocks during tight points throughout the match. Morrison was noted for her big defense, as she saved two long rallies with diving digs.
“I think the team chemistry is there,” Bertucci said. “We still have to clean up our game, but as the rest of the team starts to contribute offensively [to help out Morrison], we won’t get stuck in rotation, and that’s our Achilles’ heel.”
Bertucci said the problems seemed to come from errors. The Owls committed 16 errors throughout the three games. Luckily for Temple, GW made 23 errors, which ultimately led to their 3-0 demise.
“I tried to limit my errors,” Zhang said. “We tried rushing things a little, and we were very up-and-down, but overall, we played as a team, and that’s what wins games.”
“We were ready to go and ready to win. I was impressed,” Morrison added. “We blocked a lot stronger, and we moved like we knew where the ball was going.”
To keep the flow going in the A-10, the next step for the Owls will be road tests against Dayton and Xavier before returning to Philadelphia to play La Salle.
Christian Audesirk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.