After Sandra Sydlik injured her hand Oct. 14 during the team’s first set against Connecticut, freshman Hannah Vandegrift replaced the senior setter, appearing in all five sets while totaling a team-high 45 assists in the Owls’ 3-2 loss.
Coming into the match against the Huskies, the freshman had played in six sets in the team’s previous 18 games.
The duo has been splitting time, rotating based on matchups, as Sydlik has played a defensive role as the team’s server and Vandegrift has primarily been a blocker.
Vandegrift said being able to be learn from Sydlik, as well as former assistant coach Akiko Hatakeyama, who is a Temple graduate and former professional setter, has been key for her development.
“It’s great learning from [Sydlik] she’s definitely the best setter in the conference,” Vandegrift said. “Knowing in practice that I have to push her, and she pushes me all the time. It’s really tough, but at the same time, it’s great.”
The Owls are second in The American with 13.13 assists per set, behind Southern Methodist, who averages 13.41 assists per set.
Both Sydlik and Vandegrift combined for 48 assists and 11 digs in Temple’s 3-2 loss against Houston Friday night.
As Sydlik winds down her senior season Vandegrift knows she will have to assume a leadership role as an underclassman.
“It’s a little nerve-racking now thinking about it,” Vandegrift said. “But I know as the season progresses and everything goes on I’m gonna have more confidence.”
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com.