Asci helps lead Owls past Houston for first conference victory

Junior outside hitter Irem Asci led all players with 26 kills in the Owls’ four-set victory against Houston on Sunday at McGonigle Hall.

Two days after dropping its conference season opener, Temple bounced back to beat the Houston in four sets and split the first weekend of conference play.

Temple’s offense led the way, nearly hitting 50 percent in the third set, finishing at 33.8 percent for the match.

The first set seemed to be Temple’s for the taking, as the Owls forced Houston to call a timeout after going up 11-5. The timeout slowed Temple’s momentum, allowing the Cougars to come back to win the set 25-23.

“We had a lot of unforced errors in the first set,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam. “This game is really simple, we needed to limit our mistakes because it cost us the first set.”

After the first set Temple took over, winning the next three sets to finish off Houston. The Owls won the second set 25-21 and the third and fourth sets 25-17.

Junior outside hitter Irem Asci leads the team in kills for the season and Sunday was no different, as she added 26 kills to her season total. Asci also added four of the team’s 20 blocks.

“It didn’t feel like I had that many kills,” Asci said. “I was just thinking about the things we talked about in meetings, so I was just trying to do the little things and I guess they added up.”

Two new faces were added to Temple’s rotation in the win Sunday. Setter Hannah Vandegrift and middle blocker Carla Guennewig, both sophomores, saw extended playing time in the matchup with Houston.

Guennewig had only played eight sets all season before today, and Vandegrift hadn’t played since Sept. 10.

“Not going to lie it was stressful at first and I was a little nervous,” Vandegrift said. “But as the game went on I was eased in and it got better. My teammates also helped a lot, we’ve practiced together, and we love each other on and off the court.”

The players felt relieved after getting the first conference win out of the way.

“When the game ended I just felt like ‘Thank god I am really happy,’” Asci said. “I think everything we worked on just really worked well today, we were smart on the court, and the new blood contributed.”

Temple has a quick turnaround, with a match at Connecticut on Wednesday night. The Huskies are currently on top of the American Athletic Conference standings, undefeated in conference play and 11-2 overall.

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

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