A nine-point victory in the first set had the Owls off to a good start on Friday against Cleveland State University. However, the team could not remain consistent, as the Owls lost three of the next four sets in a five-set loss at McGonigle Hall.
“We were really good in the first set,” sophomore middle blocker Iva Deak said. “I don’t know what went wrong for the rest of game, we just didn’t adjust well.”
Temple took a lead early on in the first set and did not look back, finishing the Vikings off 25-16. Junior outside hitter Irem Asci led on the attack, finishing the set with six kills. The Owls converted 33 percent of their attacks in the first set, their highest rate in the match.
Cleveland State won both the second and third sets 25-22, as the Owls lost efficiency on the attack. The team converted less than 20 percent of their attempts in both sets including a match-low 17.1 percent in the third set.
Temple bounced back to win the fourth set 25-21, before falling in the fifth set 15-8. Cleveland State converted 66.7 percent of its attacks in the final set.
Asci was the only Owl with double-digit kills, finishing with 25 in the match. Junior setter Kyra Coundourides led the team with 52 assists, while Deak led the team with 41.2 hitting percentage and five blocks.
Cleveland State is the second team Temple has played this season that made the 2015 NCAA tournament.The Owls will face another tournament team tomorrow when they play the University of New Hampshire.
Playing tough teams has always been a part of the plan for this season.
“We are always ready for the challenge,” senior middle blocker Kirsten Overton said. “We want to see how we stack up against good teams and we’re really close in all these games. We went five sets with [Virginia Tech] and Cleveland State, and four close sets with [University of Alabama].”
Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam is taking the close matches as a positive and hopes the team can make adjustments for the rest of the tournament.
“We picked this tournament to play really good teams and see how we could match up,” Ganesharatnam said. “We want to make adjustments for the rest of the tournament like we wanted to today, if we made some adjustments today we would’ve won.”
Temple continues on in the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing Cherry and White Challenge tomorrow with matches against New Hampshire at 10 a.m. and Rutgers University at 6 p.m.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.