The Owls secured the Patriot Invitational with 3-1 victories over host school George Mason University and Coppin State on Sept. 7, combined with a win over Radford University the day before.
With the tournament win, Temple now sits at 4-1 for the season, winners of four straight matches.
“I am very proud of the girls,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “We had to earn this tournament win, which I thought was a great thing. Coppin State was much underrated, they came and played one of the best games I have ever seen them play against us, and it was really tough to play George Mason with it being our second game of the day, and George Mason was at home.”
“We were pretty consistent with our serving throughout the tournament,” Ganes added. “I thought the match we played ]Friday] against Radford was our best serving match all tournament, but that part of our game was definitely the best all weekend.”
Senior Gabriella Matautia was named both tournament MVP and Best Attacker, while sophomore Sandra Sydlik earned Best Setter honors.
In the three matches, Matautia racked up 54 kills, which led the tournament, along with 33 total digs and 13 blocks. Sydlik totaled just fewer than 100 assists in eight sets. She sat out during the match against Coppin State.
“We worked really well together,” said Matautia, “And we fought for every point and stuck to our game plan and the scouting reports. As a team, we tried to keep up the intensity level. I think this weekend showed that our team has improved and we’re happy with the progress, but we still have a lot more to work on.”
The tournament had added pressure for senior Emily Carlin, who played her former team Radford on Friday night. Carlin transferred to Temple in January of this year after playing three seasons for Radford. Carlin put on a show for her old team with an impressive 17 kills, which was second on the team. She also had two blocks and 11 digs, combining for 18 total points.
“I was a little bit nervous in the beginning,” Carlin said, “But it went well. I played like I would play any other team. It was nice to see old faces, but I really treated it like any other match. What I felt was that I’m really happy to be at Temple and there is no second-guessing.”
“[Carlin] has been great for us ever since she came onto our team,” Ganes said. “She has adapted well with the system and has been a big contributor offensively for us. I thought she came on and played really well against her former team. She is providing us with another senior presence as well.”
Carlin shined on Saturday as well as she recorded a double-double in both matches. She knocked down a match-high 19 kills in the win over George Mason, while adding a team-high 16 digs. Carlin added another 19 kills and 15 digs in the win against Coppin State, which also led the Owls.
“We were a little up and down throughout the weekend,” Ganes said. “But overall, we finished sets and closed out games and that was really good. I think this will give the girls a lot of confidence going forward and will make them come together more as a team. They know they can win if they play as team and have good communication.”
Temple will be back on the court closer to home this weekend at the Penn Invitational. The Owls will face off against Weber State, La Salle and Penn.
Rich Fogel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @RBFogel26.