Two more games to go. Two more wins and Temple’s volleyball team is back in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. One loss in the Atlantic Ten Championships and the Big Dance is probably out of the question.
This time, however, the Owls will have a chance to clinch a NCAA berth on their home court as Temple will host the A-10 Championships after Rhode Island, the original host school, fell out of the playoffs.
Temple, the top seed, will host Xavier in the first round tomorrow at McGonigle Hall. If the Owls advance they will meet either No.2 Dayton, the only A-10 team to beat Temple in conference play, or No.3 George Washington in the championship match Nov. 22.
“Fans help motivate players and give us a much bigger home court advantage,” coach Bob Bertucci said. “This team gets motivated with that while some teams are concerned about becoming too motivated and too nervous [about playing at home.]”
The Owls (19-7, 13-1 A-10) captured the regular season conference title after disposing of Duquesne, 3-1, and George Washington, 3-0, last weekend. Temple has won 19 of its last 21 matches.
Never mind that Temple swept Xavier in both matches this season. Bertucci knows how tough each match will be.
“The A-10 is very, very competitive and Xavier has been playing extremely well in the second half of the season,” Bertucci said. “We will work hard during the next three days to try to identify some of the weaknesses [to prepare for the championship.]”
Senior outside hitter Liu Shu and junior setter Alison Runk showed their confidence in what they have achieved and will bring postseason experience to the team. Both believe they can win one more time.
“We are doing good,” Shu said. “I am confident now because we won the championship and played in the Sweet 16 last year. Xavier’s players are very consistent and the match should be tough. But we can beat them.”
Runk can’t wait to take the court tomorrow. She knows what it takes to get to the NCAAs and is more than confident she can help her team get there.
“Definitely,” Runk said. “Definitely we’ll win the A-10 title and go to the NCAAs and try to do what we did last year.”
Toshi Horiuchi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.