Owls claim tournament title

Senior setter Sandra Sydlik sets the ball during the Owls’ straight sets win Friday against Montana at McGonigle Hall. | Evan Easterling TTN
Senior setter Sandra Sydlik sets the ball during the Owls’ straight sets win Friday against Montana at McGonigle Hall. | Evan Easterling TTN

As Alyssa Drachslin walked onto Temple’s bus to leave the Seton Hall Invitational Sept. 5, the Owls’ miscues during the event replayed through her head.

Temple committed 59 attack errors, 17 serve errors and 18 serve receive errors in the Owls’ 2-1 showing in the tournament.

“It was more of a mental loss, the team couldn’t get on the same page,” the senior libero said. “There is always something that is going to be inconsistent during the games, so we just have to work around it.”

In preparation for the Hilton Penn’s Landing Cherry and White Invitational this past weekend, coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam focused on defensive drills in the team’s practices to help cure the errors that cost the team at the Seton Hall Invitational.

The Owls (7-2) won all three of their games this weekend taking nine of the 11 sets they played at the tournament.

The team kicked off the invitational Friday with a 3-0 victory against the University of Montana at McGonigle Hall. The Owls defeated Duquesne University 3-2 Saturday afternoon. Despite the win, which was the team’s first five-set match of the season, the Owls totaled 21 errors.

“We are struggling coming out of the second set,” Drachslin said. “We have to get some confidence and keep pressure for the first two or three points and get those on our side. I think that is our weakest spot.”

Before the Owls took on Binghamton University in their final match of the invitational, sophomore outside hitter Irem Asci and Drachslin danced to OMI’s “Cheerleader,” as the song blared through McGonigle Hall.

With the tournament championship on the line, Drachslin said the two wanted the team to stay loose.

“It’s good to get everyone up and going, especially when we are losing,” Drachslin said. “When we are down our team tries to focus less on the score and more of what we are doing.”

As a captain, Drachslin tried not to harp on the team’s mistakes.

“It is pretty obvious as a team we were struggling, so we know to hold each other responsible in that aspect,” Drachslin said. “You can’t talk about it too much because we know what has to happen.”

The Owls earned 45 digs and committed eight errors in a 3-0 victory against Binghamton, winning the tournament.

After two second place finishes in their previous tournaments, the Cherry and White championship was the Owls’ only first place finish of the year.

“We wanted to come out and win in our home tournament,” senior defensive specialist/libero Kayla Yingling said. “This tournament was very good for us, but like the tournaments before, we still prepare for the upcoming tournaments.”

The Owls limited Binghamton to 23 kills and a 6.3 hitting percentage. Temple also had eight blocks compared to the Bearcats’ four.

“Instead of getting blocked once or twice, we kept hitting, using blocks to our advantage,” said sophomore outside hitter Izzy Rapacz, who was named the tournament’s MVP. “The middles really picked it up on blocking and are progressing towards every single match.”

The Owls move onto the Big 5 Tournament this weekend, hoping to build off their first tournament win.

“What we learned from this tournament is we have a lot of ups and downs and that we tend to keep going with back and forth points,” Yingling said. “The team just needs to stay steady.”

Connor Northrup can be reached at connor.northrup@temple.edu or on Twitter @ConnorNJ4Life.

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