Overton, Owls recover from early loss in tournament opener

After loss to No. 13 Oregon on Friday, Temple rebounded with wins over Navy and St. John’s.

Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam instructs the volleyball team during the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Temple Invitational over the weekend. | Don Otto TTN
Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam instructs the volleyball team during the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Temple Invitational over the weekend. | Don Otto TTN

Junior middle blocker Kirsten Overton was frustrated with her team’s attitude as she exited the court after the Owls’ 3-0 loss at the hands of the nationally ranked University of Oregon Friday night.

With two games waiting for the team on Saturday to conclude the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Temple Invitational, Overton knew the Owls would need to put the loss behind them.

“Before we played Navy the team feeling was kind of somber,” Overton said. “The captains and I really had to get everyone together and say ‘Oregon is over, we have two more games.’”

In Saturday’s tournament games with the Naval Academy and St. John’s University, the Owls responded to Overton’s message.

Temple did not drop a set, winning both contests by a score of 3-0. Bouncing back from adversity is part of the team’s philosophy early this season.

“I think whenever we have a team meeting with or without coach [Bakeer Ganesharatnam], we talk about being in the moment, not dwelling on the past or thinking about the future,” sophomore outside hitter/right side hitter Izzy Rapacz said. “I think that is what we kind of did, just kind of shaking it off, not feeling pressure and using what we did well and putting it into the Navy and St. John’s game.”

Despite the strong rebound, the loss to the Ducks was not how Temple wanted to start its season.

The offense struggled in its first action of the season connecting on 35 of its 113 attacks.

“Obviously our lower hitting percentage went hand-in-hand with great blocking work Oregon did,” Ganesharatnam said. “But one of our goals was to improve our hitting percentage, to be a little more effective and finish placements at the net.”

The Owls corrected their offensive woes early Saturday, accumulating a hitting average of 41.2 percent in their first win of the season against the Midshipmen.

Later in the day, Temple continued its rebound from Friday night, converting 55.7 percent of its attacks against the Red Storm.

“We really kept composure against Navy and St. John’s,” Overton said. “We were patient and didn’t play down to anyone. It comes with focus and mental stability, something that we are really improving on.”

Ganesharatnam was unhappy with Rapacz’s performance Friday. He said he was pleased with her improved play during Saturday’s contest.

“I thought Izzy took some pressure off [sophomore outside hitter] Irem [Asci] on offense for us, so I think overall they were very solid,” Ganesharatnam said. “For a young player like Izzy, it is very typical to make a lot of mistakes. They have ups and downs.”

Rapacz collected 23 kills in Saturday’s two wins, compared to four kills in the loss to the Ducks.

“I feel like I just helped all around rather than just hitting, so with the blocking, the digs and a couple of assists,” Rapacz said. “I just wanted put the plays to an end, so that is what worked today.”

The Owls finished second behind the Ducks at the invitational.

“On paper it is a defeat, but we are not focused on just wins or defeats,” Ganesharatnam said. “What we are really focusing on are being the best team we can possibly be.”

Connor Northrup can be reached at connor.northrup@temple.edu.

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