Coach Bakeer Ganes was losing his voice. Temple defeated SMU 3-2 in a two hour and twenty minute thriller on Friday night at McGonigle Hall full of students, parents, and band members.
“This was a great match,” Ganes said. “I think [Southern Methodist] is the best team in the conference.”
SMU was ranked first in the American Athletic Conference volleyball preseason coaches’ poll and Temple came in at number nine. Despite the lackluster ranking, the Owls have been off to a quick start in The American, having now won six of their first nine conference matches.
On Friday night, Temple fed off of the crowd’s energy early en route to a 25-17 first set victory. Ganes felt the crowd definitely helped his team get off to a quick start.
“I keep telling everybody whenever I get a chance, when the students come out here, it makes a huge difference,” Ganes said.
However, in the second set it certainly seemed like SMU was going to level the match. The Mustangs were playing the role of frontrunner for the entire set. But a late surge from Temple led to the only lead change in the set and the Owls grabbed a 2-0 match lead with a 25-22 victory in the second set.
“It was extremely important,” junior libero Alyssa Drachslin said. “We knew they were going to come on and I think that was really important for us to continue to fight.”
SMU would fight back though, refusing to relinquish a lead in the third set as there would be no ties or lead changes in the third which ended with the Mustangs on top 25-20.
The fourth set was evenly matched. With 13 ties and eight lead changes SMU came out on top by a score of 27-25 and forced a fifth.
“It’s exciting,” senior middle blocker Jennifer Iacobini said in comment to the back and forth affair in the fourth set. “We’re athletes and we love competiveness and that’s what drives us.”
The Owls surged to a victory on Friday night as they pulled out a 15-10 fifth set to improve to 15-6 overall and 6-3 in The American, claiming sole possession of third place in the conference standings.
“Every win is a huge win for us,” Ganes said. “To beat SMU, gives us a lot of satisfaction.”
Greg Frank can be reached at Greg.Frank@Temple.edu or on Twitter @g_frank6