The Owls thought it was tough before.
Traveling to schools in states like South Carolina and Rhode Island was one matter, but the radius of schools in the American Athletic Conference has posed a different type of challenge for the volleyball team during the past two seasons.
Temple opened its season with a tournament in Syracuse and later on in the non-conference part of the schedule played a tournament in Brooklyn. Those two trips were two of the shorter ones all season for the Owls.
Temple opened play in The American traveling to Connecticut and East Carolina. The team then flew to Florida for a two-game slate against Central Florida and South Florida. This past weekend, Temple traveled to Texas and then New Orleans for matches against Houston and Tulane, respectively.
With longer trips in The American, and weekend matches often taking place on Fridays and Sundays, junior libero Alyssa Drachslin said the trips can pose an additional challenge aside from the in-game competition.
“Wednesday night we’re prepared to leave [for the weekend],” junior libero Alyssa Drachslin said. “We don’t get back to Philly until Sunday at maybe midnight and so bouncing back to school is the hardest part.”
Senior middle blocker Jennifer Iacobini agreed.
“Flying’s tough on your body, too,” Iacobini said. “We get really exhausted and then we have practice, so we have to be ready to get going.”
However, for a team that has 11 of 16 players on the roster who have been with Temple for a year or less, Drachslin said the team uses the heavy traveling time as a useful bonding experience.
“We’re always together when we’re away,” Drachslin said. “We’re sitting next to each other on the airplane, we’re eating together, warming up together, going to bed together, you switch roommates so you get to know different people on the team so I definitely think that it helps with the bonding aspect.”
For coach Bakeer Ganes, sport science plays an integral role in ensuring his team is able to hold up through the long trips and can be fresh once it’s time to hit the court.
“We make sure they eat right and that they drink enough fluids,” Ganes said. “We try to monitor their sleep to make sure they have enough rest which is very important in the recovery phase and then we monitor practices and the amount of practicing.”
After a morning lifting session and an afternoon practice on Tuesday, Ganes said he and the staff ease up the intensity of training during the remainder of the week leading up to the team’s weekend action.
Ganes has different expectations for the road portion of the schedule as opposed to when the Owls are in playing at home in McGonigle Hall.
“To compete on the road is much harder,” Ganes said. “We try to spilt on the road and if we do that, I think that’s a pretty successful weekend. At home, we try to win every match because we are comfortable to the environment and we should be a little more rested than the opposing team.”
With eight matches completed in The American, Ganes is content with his team’s current standing at 14-6 (5-3 The American) and nearing the halfway point of the conference schedule.
“I think we’re pretty solid,” Ganes said. “It could have been better, but it could have also been worse.”
Coming up, Temple will play six of its next eight conference matches at home, beginning with matchups against Southern Methodist and Tulsa this weekend.
Greg Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @G_Frank6