After a difficult loss to Xavier on Saturday, the volleyball team rebounded by defeating LaSalle, 3-1 (28-30, 30-19, 30-19, 30-25), Tuesday at McGonigle Hall. With the win, the Owls improved their record to 7-13 overall and 4-1 in the Atlantic Ten Conference.
Dating back to 2002, the Owls have now won 30 of their last 33 conference matches.
Temple lost the first game due largely to a lack of communication the led to several La Salle points.
“The girls don’t quite get on track until they’re into the game,” coach Bob Bertucci said.
The Owls came out in the second game with more intensity and better communication, helping them win the next three games.
Bertucci, fresh off his postgame tirade last Saturday, was pleased with his team’s performance.
“Offensively, we are doing better, and I liked the individual spiking,” he said.
Bertucci also said he sensed a connection forming between senior setter Allison Runk and freshman outside hitter Yue Liu, both major players in the offensive game.
“Seeing them begin to understand each other is a very positive sign,” Bertucci said.
Three Owls finished with double-doubles in kills and digs. Yue Liu (25 kills, 13 digs), senior Zhen Jia Liu (14 and 14), and freshman Ying Sun Ling (11 and 19) all had impressive performances and stepped up in the third and fourth games
Runk had 59 assists and displayed senior leadership throughout the match for a relatively young team. She scored clutch points in the fourth game whenever the Explorers (7-14, 0-5) began to gain momentum.
The 20-minute tirade by Bertucci after Saturday’s loss may have been the wake-up call the Owls needed. Bertucci said many of his players were still upset with themselves at Monday’s practice. However, he stressed the team now must put it behind them. The win over La Salle was a good start.
Freshman middle blocker Christina DeMarco voiced her disappointment about blowing a big lead against Xavier. She called it “very out of character,” but is focused on what is ahead. After the team started out flat, she was pleased with the their ability to come back and win.
“[Beating LaSalle] is a big confidence boost, because every conference game is important, no matter what team we are playing,” she said.
DeMarco chipped in with 11 kills. After the game, coach Bertucci complimented DeMarco’s play, saying she had a “very good hitting game,” but also expressed one area where he’d like to see her improve.
“We need to get Christina playing on the defensive side of the game; she’s showing she can be a middle hitter, but we need her to be a middle blocker,” Bertucci said.
He added: “As she begins to focus more on blocking, which is her No. 1 priority, then I think we are going to raise our level of play by 10 percent.”
Even though there are areas that need improvement, the Owls are fortunate to have three promising freshmen in Liu, Ling and DeMarco.
The Owls look to make it consecutive wins as they wrap up their five-game homestand this weekend, when they take on Fordham on Saturday and Rhode Island Sunday.
Dan Murphy can be reached at email@example.com.