Defense and confidence key Owls’ victory against St. John’s

Temple rounded out the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Temple Invitational with a sweep of St. John’s University Saturday night in McGonigle Hall.

The win against the Red Storm capped off a 2-1 start for the team its first weekend of play this season.

After falling to the University of Oregon, ranked 13th in American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, in straight sets on Friday, the Owls defeated both the Naval Academy and St. John’s 3-0 . Senior setter Sandra Sydlik earned all-tournament honors with 112 assists throughout the three matches.

“I think we were a little nervous against Oregon,” Sydlik said. “So I think after the win against Navy we were more confident and our hitters were hitting really hard …This is how we usually play and how we should play during the season.”

Junior Tyler Davis and sophomores Irem Asci and Izzy Rapacz tallied 14 kills each, in the sweep of the Red Storm. As a team, the Owls totaled 56 kills, compared to St. John’s 29.

“I think that we definitely came out a little more mentally prepared for this game,” sophomore middle blocker Janine Simmons said. “We knew that this was going to definitely be a tougher match than Navy, but it was definitely a winnable game.”

After Oregon totaled 49 kills and 47 assists Friday, the Owls held both Navy and St. John’s under 30 kills and blocks. Simmons, Rapacz and junior middle blocker Kirsten Overton helped defend the Red Storm’s offensive attempts, putting up 13 blocks collectively.

Simmons played in six sets as a freshman but has started in the team’s first three games this season. She said she is looking forward to a larger role in 2015.

“I’m hoping that I can play a larger role on the team,” Simmonds said. “I’m looking to impact the team in a positive way, whether that’s pushing each other in practice. Hopefully getting some blocks, some hits in a game, anyway I can help the team.”

Temple’s defensive play against St. John’s improved from their opening match against the Ducks The Owls totaled 42 and 44 digs against St. John’s and Navy, respectively. Against Oregon, Temple had 33 digs.

“I think that was the key at the end,” Sydlik said. “I think we had over forty digs and St. John’s only had 19 and I think that’s the difference. If you pick up the ball and keep the ball alive, I think that’s just the key at the end.”

Greg Van Buskirk can be reached at tuf86285@temple.edu

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