Temple entered Wednesday night’s match against Tulane in need of a win to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive and got one by a score of 3-0 and set scores of 25-11, 25-15 and 25-14.
Temple had lost back-to-back matches last weekend to Tulsa and Southern Methodist. Fortunately for the Owls, Tulsa and SMU were two teams ahead of them in the RPI standings and so Owls remained inside the top 64. However, Tulane came in second to last in the American Athletic Conference standings and a loss Wednesday would have been very detrimental to the Owls chances of qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
After a difficult weekend, coach Bakeer Ganes was pleased with the way his team came back at home on Wednesday night.
“We watched a lot of film and analyzed and this was a really good performance,” Ganes said.
From start to finish on Wednesday, the match was never in doubt for Temple. In all three sets combined there were a total of 10 ties and just five lead changes as the Owls improved to 14-5 in the American Athletic Conference and 23-8 overall. Additionally the Owls continued to dominate at home improved their record to 11-1 at McGonigle Hall.
Junior libero Alyssa Drachslin had 12 digs and felt that a dominant performance on Wednesday night was a good statement that the Owls weren’t going to quit after a tough weekend.
“I think it’s really important for the team to come out and show that we’re still fighting for the season,” Drachslin said. “We had two tough losses, it’s not discouraging to us, we took a day to get over it and we really came out here and showed that we wanted to win and we did that.”
Sophomore middle blocker Kirsten Overton entered Wednesday third in The American in hitting percentage and showed why had 10 kills on 13 attempts to hit an astonishing .692. Freshman outsider hitter Dara Peric would lead the team in kills with 12 and also added 10 digs.
Another freshman stepped up for Temple as outside hitter Izzy Rapacz started just her fifth match of the season and recorded nine kills and hit .467 in the win for the Owls. For Rapacz, being able to contribute this late in the season was very rewarding.
“It feels great,” Rapacz said. “I’m really happy that I’m able to help my team. I’m really happy that the coaches gave me a chance to come out on the court and hopefully they’re happy with what they see.”
Ganes added that he felt Rapacz has been developing well during the season and was pleased to see her hard work translate to success in a match.
“Izzy is a great talent,” Ganes said. “We’ve been patient with her, we’ve been training her, the thing with freshmen is you don’t want to put them in situations where they’re going to get burnt. She’s been playing pretty well. She certainly deserved a start today.”
While Rapacz stepped up for the Owls, the night was extra special for Drachslin who reached the milestone of 1,000 digs in her career as an Owl. She became the 11th player in Temple volleyball history to reach this milestone.
“I’m glad I got it but I don’t really focus on the stats too much,” Drachslin said. “As long as I’m helping the team win I’m happy.”
Temple will wrap up the regular season on Friday night with a home match against Houston.
Greg Frank can be reached at Greg.Frank@temple.edu or on Twitter @g_frank6