Uncooperative travel arrangements and a duo of straight-set losses to Atlantic Ten Conference opponents caused the women’s volleyball team to fall to a 2-5 conference record (6-14 overall) with Friday and Sunday to Saint Louis and Duquesne.
The Owls’ flight to St. Louis was canceled Thursday and the team didn’t arrive until Friday morning, several hours after they were scheduled to be there. Coach Bakeer Ganes attributed the long delay and lack of sleep on the team’s poor performance against the second-place Billikens.
“I thought they tried to compete, but they were just physically not able to perform to the best ability,” Ganes said after Sunday’s loss.
“I hate to blame it on other circumstances, but at the same time you can’t discount them either,” he added.
Temple hit just .070 on the day, compared to Saint Louis’s .351. Senior outside hitter Collin Wallace and sophomore outside hitter Gabriella Matuatia led the team with just eight kills each. Wallace managed 10 digs as well, but the offense was unable to generate any momentum in a 3-0 loss.
The Owls didn’t fare any better against Duquesne on Sunday, losing again 3-0. Sophomore outside hitter Elyse Burkert managed the team’s only double-digit kill total for the weekend, with 11 kills and 10 digs. Once again Temple was out-hit .054 to .311.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We were definitely hoping to steal one,” Ganes said.
Ganes said he felt like the girls had a shot against the Dukes after getting some much-needed rest, but the team struggled with slow starts in all three sets, losing 25-10, 25-16 and 25-21.
“Once you’re down by eight, nine points it’s really hard to come back,” Ganes said. “Overall it was a really disappointing weekend.”
The losses knock the team further down in the A-10 as they currently sit tied with Fordham—who the Owls lost to on Oct. 1 in McGonigle Hall—for seventh place. Only Charlotte and LaSalle have worse records in the A-10.
However, Ganes isn’t entirely discouraged by the early returns in the conference schedule.
“Three of those matches we played against the three top teams [Dayton, Xavier and Saint Louis] in the conference,” Ganes said.
The weekend also put a spotlight on a suddenly struggling offense. Burkert was the only Owl to record at least 10 kills (Saint Louis and Duquesne each had two players in double-digits against Temple), and Matuatia and Wallace were the only other players to get close.
“Collin [Wallace], Elyse [Burkert], Gabbie [Matuatia], they have to find ways to score,” Ganes said. “They have to find a way to finish plays. And we’re going to work on it this week in the gym.”
The team has a lot of work to do on all phases of the offense, Ganes said, and they will spend this week working on them as they prepare for George Washington and Charlotte.
“We’re going to go back to the gym and we’re going to work on definitely finishing plays,” Ganes said. “We’re going to work on our offense and at the same time we’re going to work on a lot of serve-receive, because that goes hand-in-hand. Our offense has to pick it up.”
The Owls return to action on Friday night at home against George Washington (4-3 in the A-10). The match will be a breast cancer awareness event, called Dig Pink, and the team will fundraise money to donate to a local hospital.
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.