Overton, Owls kick off season with tournament sweep

The Owls knocked off Niagra, hosting Syracuse and Delaware State en route to winning the Syracuse Tournament Sunday.

If Temple was looking to make an early statement on how it would perform in 2014, it certainly made a resounding one this weekend. The Owls won all three of their matches in the Syracuse Invitational to win the tournament.

It started with a three-set defeat of Niagara on Saturday, but later in the day, Syracuse proved to be a tough out.  The Owls won a thrilling five-setter by game scores of 25-17, 20-25, 25-17, 16-25 and 15-13.  Coach Bakeer Ganes was particularly impressed with his team’s effort against the hosting Orange.

“Syracuse is one of the better teams in the [Atlantic Coastal Conference], so to be able to be them on the road means a lot,” Ganes said.

The team wrapped up the weekend with a more routine win against Delaware State on Sunday afternoon.

The tournament’s MVP was Temple sophomore middle blocker Kristen Overton, while sophomore outside hitter Caroline Grattan joined Overton on the All-Tournament team.  Overton finished with an impressive 31 kills and committed just two errors.

In Sunday’s finale, a variety of other Owls stepped up.  Junior Alyssa Drachslin led the team in digs with 10, senior Jenifer Iacobini had six kills and three blocks, and senior setter Tiffany Connaster contributed 38 assists on Temple’s 45 total kills.

Ganes noticed that while the Owls had to find different ways to win, the end result was the same, which pleased him.

“Every match was a little bit different,” Ganes said.  “It definitely says a lot about the program and about the team.”

The Owls will next be in action Friday evening with their first game in the Temple Invitational against the University of North Carolina-Charlotte at 6 p.m.

Greg Frank can be reached at greg.frank@temple.edu or on Twitter @g_frank6.

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