After sweeping their first tournament of the year last weekend, the Owls landed in Puerto Rico undefeated. They left with a five-set loss to Virginia Tech and a four-set loss to the University of Alabama to even up their record at 2-2 on the season.
The first match was on Friday, when the Owls played Virginia Tech. The match went back and forth, as Temple won the first and third sets while Virginia Tech won the second and fourth sets. This led to a close fifth set that was tied as late as 13-13. Virginia Tech went on to score three points in a row after trailing 14-13 to win the set and the match.
Standouts from the match included junior outside hitters Irem Asci and Izzy Rapacz, who both finished with double-doubles. Asci had 23 kills and 14 digs, while Rapacz finished with 14 kills and 17 digs and led the team with eight blocks.
Junior setter Kyra Coundourides had 58 assists against her former school. She played 59 games in two seasons with the Hokies.
“I think it’s fun [to play a teammates old school],” senior outside hitter Caroline Grattan said. “It gives a kind of edge going into the game, knowing [Coundourides] is going to work ten times hard.”
After the game Friday, Temple faced the University of Alabama trying to avoid getting swept in the tournament. The Owls fell in four sets, only winning the second set. The match was close, every set other than the first set finished with a four-point margin of victory or less.
In the second match, Asci and Rapacz led the Owls again. Asci recorded another double-double finishing with 16 kills and 19 digs, expanding her total for the weekend to 39 kills and 33 digs. Rapacz finished with 12 kills, seven digs and four blocks.
“Despite the two losses I thought we played really well,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “Every set we played in was tight, this tournament really helped us work better together and have a feel for everyone’s game.”
Temple’s offense was slowed all weekend, only hitting only 20.5 percent for the tournament compared to 23.75 percent in its two wins. The low percentage could be attributed to Temple’s 50 attack errors.
Temple was the only team at the tournament from a non power-5 conference. The Owls used this tournament as a way to get there name out there by competing with this big schools.
“This tournament really gave us a great opportunity to show what we can do,” Ganesharatnam said. “We were the only [non power-5] team in the tournament and we played well and represented Temple, hopefully we get invited back.”
The Owls look to bounce back this upcoming weekend as they host the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing Cherry and White Challenge. They will play three games over the weekend against Cleveland State University, the University of New Hampshire, and Rutgers University.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.