The losses piled up for the volleyball team during their non-conference schedule.
The Owls hoped to create a wave of confidence as conference play was upon them and to forget about the first month of the season.
But coach Bob Bertucci still isn’t satisfied with the overall effort.
After the Owls’ overtime loss to Xavier on Saturday, Bertucci held a closed door meeting to address the issues that are plaguing his team. The most glaring problem: the team is becoming its own worst enemy.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Bertucci said. “We made so many errors, which unfortunately seems to be the trademark of this team.”
The Owls started the match by winning the first two games, but faltered to lose in five. Xavier came back to win the match, 3-2 (28-30, 26-30, 30-24, 30-18, 15-12). After being in control the Owls lost their focus and allowed Xavier to leave McGonigle Hall with an emotional win.
Freshman Yue Liu led Temple, registering a match-high 25 kills and adding 17 digs. Senior Zhen Jia Liu recorded a double-double with 20 kills and 23 digs, while senior setter Alison Runk led the team with 64 assists.
After the Musketeers put the Owls (6-13, 3-1) away, Bertucci marched his team into the locker room, where one player admitted that the coach was more frustrated than usual.
“The girls just took a breather,” said Bertucci, who held a 20-minute meeting following the loss. “They thought ‘Oh, we’ve got two games under our belt, so we can just take a break now.’ Well, we aren’t good enough to take any breaks. We should have come out and finished them off.”
Finishing games has become a serious hurdle this season.
“I can’t tell you how many times we didn’t put the game away when we had the chance,” Bertucci added. “And it seems like each time, it always comes back to bite us in the ass.”
The Musketeers (10-8, 4-1) played with much more enthusiasm and it paid off. During a timeout in the fourth game, Musketeers coach Floyd Deaton emphasized they needed to have a sense of urgency to close things out. Evidently, the team heeded his warning.
The day before the Xavier match, the Owls needed an extra overtime period to defeat Dayton, 3-2, on Friday. Despite the win, Bertucci spoke of a lack of focus by his squad.
“Last night in game four against Dayton, we had twenty unforced errors,” he said. “That would be somewhat equivalent to a basketball game with twenty turnovers in one quarter. That would kill anybody, but we were lucky.”
All season the Owls have struggled with a bunch of new faces on the roster. Bertucci realizes the problems with chemistry aren’t something that can be solved overnight.
A sense of urgency could be good for this team because Bertucci’s patience is wearing thin.
“It’s a function of having a new team,” he added. “We have six new players and they still aren’t jelling the way they need to. That causes a lot of unforced errors.”
Still, 16 games remain in the season, which leaves some time for improvement. This season could be one of transition, and that’s something Bertucci isn’t used to.
“We have a lot of young players out there, young in terms of experience in collegiate Division I volleyball, and it’s going to take them a little while to get seasoned and eliminate these issues,” Bertucci said.
If the losses continue to mount, there could be more postgame meetings for the Owls.
Andrew Monaghan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.