In the final month of her career as an Owl, middle blocker Jennifer Iacobini isn’t making the end of the season about herself.
“I don’t think it’s just me individually,” she said. “I think it has a lot to do with how the team’s performing.”
The senior was named to the American Athletic Conference honor roll after road victories against Memphis and Cincinnati just over a week ago. For the season, Iacobini averages close to two kills per set and roughly one block per set. In addition, Iacobini has posted a career-high .315 hitting percentage as the Owls sit at 20-6 overall and 11-3 in The American.
Entering the season, one of the big questions for Temple was whether it could effectively replace Gabby Matautia and Elyse Burkert, two of the team’s more talented offensive weapons from last year.
Temple has had offensive contributions from many of its players up front, but Iacobini acknowledged she entered the season as one of three seniors on the roster expecting to take on a bigger role.
“Being a senior you have a lot of experience,” Iacobini said. “[Outside hitter Dara Peric is] a freshman playing so you have to take that part in showing her and the younger girls how to play against these tough teams, how to act on the court and just be an example for everyone.”
In addition to Peric, sophomore middle blocker Kirsten Overton and sophomore outside hitter Tyler Davis have been vital pieces for the team this season on offense. Davis leads the team with 256 kills this season and said Iacobini is leading by example.
“Whenever it comes game time, she’s almost always there ready to play, doing her game,” Davis said. “So she’s a good person to look at especially whenever other hitters are struggling. She’s always that one person that we can throw the ball to and she’s there.”
With Iacobini’s days as an Owl winding down, the team will have to find another player to be their veteran anchor moving forward, a role that Davis said she would love to grow into.
“You always want to be that outlook player that, no matter what the setter knows if she puts it to you, you’re going to put the ball away,” Davis said. “So that’s definitely something to look up to because she’s very good at that.”
At the start of the season, coach Bakeer Ganes said he felt that the amount of experience Iacobini brought to the Owls would come with the necessary expanded production with Matautia and Burkert having graduated.
“Whenever you have a senior who is a starter, that means that player progressed and developed, and obviously this is probably the highest level she’s been playing in her career,” Ganes said.
With five matches left on the year, the Owls sit at 59th in the Nov. 4 NCAA RPI, just on the outside looking in for 64-team field. A berth in the tournament would continue’s Iacobini’s run.
She said the team has the postseason on its mind, particularly after the Owls topped South Florida and previously-undefeated Central Florida this past weekend.
Whether or not the Owls are to qualify for the NCAA tournament, Iacobini said the team is going in the right direction and said the future is bright for her younger teammates.
“I think the next two years, three years, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Iacobini said.
Greg Frank can be reached at email@example.com and on twitter @g_frank6