Four seniors fuel comeback in last game at McGonigle Hall

The Owls beat conference champion Southern Methodist 3-2 Sunday at McGonigle Hall in the team’s last home game of the season.

Seniors Sandra Sydlik, Alyssa Drachslin, Kayla Yingling and Halle McCullough finished their home careers with a 3-2 win against Southern Methodist Sunday at McGonigle Hall.

After dropping the first two sets, the Owls (23-8, 14-5 American Athletic Conference) won three consecutive sets to defeat The American’s regular-season champions. Temple’s win ended the Mustangs’ 16-game win streak.

In the first set, the Mustangs jumped out to a 16-8 lead before winning the set 25-18. Southern Methodist held Temple to a 7.7 percent kill rate in the frame, while totaling four blocks. In the five sets, Temple had five blocks.

“They scouted us well,” Drachslin said. “They knew who our go-to players were. It took us a little bit to figure out where to put the ball down, but once our defense picked up and our hitters had more opportunities, we were able to figure it out .”

After Southern Methodist won the first point of the first set, sophomore outside hitter Izzy Rapacz stayed on the floor, appearing to roll her ankle.

Unable to continue playing, Rapacz was replaced by senior middle blocker Halle McCullough, who finished with 12 kills for the match.

“I’m so proud of Halle,” said Yingling, a defensive specialist. “She’s a big part of this team even though she isn’t always on the court. But she’s definitely impacting the team in a positive way, and it was really great to see her have such a great game.”

After leading 21-17 in the second set, the Owls could not hold off a rally from the Mustangs, who  won the set 25-23, taking a 2-0 going into the halftime break.

Temple won the third and fourth sets 25-22 and 25-20, respectively.

In those sets, sophomore outside hitter Irem Asci and junior outside hitter Tyler Davis spearheaded the comeback with their offense. Asci finished the match with 24 kills and 21 digs,  and Davis finished second on the team in kills with 14.

In the fifth set, the Owls gained an early 10-6 advantage. The Mustangs scored two consecutive points to cut the lead to 10-8., and coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam called a timeout.

Following the timeout, the Owls went on to win the set 15-12 and claim the match 3-2.

The Owls will finish the season Friday when they play at East Carolina. While Southern Methodist has already clinched the conference championship, Friday’s game will be the team’s last game before it finds of its fate in the Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament.

“We still have to take care of business,” McCullough said. “We still have to do our jobs, whether we win or lose, whether the result matters. On Friday we have to go out there and do our job.”

Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at or @_kevinschaeffer.

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