Five-point run gives volleyball win against Houston

The Owls nearly blew a two-sets-to-none lead, but they scored five points in a row to win the final set on Sunday on the road against Houston.

Redshirt-freshman outside hitter Dana Westfield prepares to take a swing at the ball in the Owls' win against Memphis on Sept. 24 at McGonigle Hall. She had a career-high 19 kills in Sunday's five-set win against Houston. | MIKE NGUYEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Houston only needed two points for a five-set home victory against Temple Sunday afternoon.

A kill by Houston freshman outside hitter Silvia Pertens had the Owls trailing 13-10.The Owls opened the match by winning the first two sets, but after dropping the third and fourth sets, they found themselves in a difficult situation.

Temple (7-5, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) beat Houston, 3-2, after closing out the fifth set with five straight points. Temple has won three matches in a row after its losing its conference opener against Wichita State.

“Whenever you’re up against a score like that, the likelihood that you’re going to win that match is low,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “For us to be able to come back and win this match is a huge testimony to the character of the players and the team. The team did a tremendous job believing that we could still win it, fighting through, showing a lot of guts and executing at a high level at the end to get the win.”

The Owls’ defense sparked the team’s 5-0 run. Temple forced four consecutive attack errors in the final moments of the match to go up 14-13. The only offensive point scored in those final five points won the game.

Senior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz topped off the comeback with a service ace. Rapacz ended the match with a double-double, recording 12 kills and 17 digs.

Redshirt-freshman outside hitter Dana Westfield led the Owls on offense. In the first four sets, Westfield already had a career-high 19 kills. Ganesharatnam said Westfield did a good job of hitting around blocks and placing her shots. Westfield hit 34.1 percent and finished the match with five attack errors on 41 attack attempts.

Senior setter Kyra Coundourides also had a career day. Coundourides had 49 assists while also hitting 45.5 percent and contributing five kills. She also added 12 digs to end the day with a double-double. Coundourides reached the 2,500 career assist mark against Houston. She has 1,614 assists so far in her Temple career.

“Kyra is a great talent, a great setter, a great player to have on the court and we’re very happy that she’s able to run our offense for us,” Ganesharatnam said. “Having 2,500 assists in her career is a great achievement, and she performed very well tonight. Our abilities in the third and fourth set were not as accurate in the first two sets, and she really did a good job of getting to the ball and finding ways to thwart their attack.”

The Owls return home for their next match against East Carolina. Temple will play the Pirates on Friday at 7 p.m at McGonigle Hall.

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