The Owls lost to South Florida on Wednesday night at McGonigle Hall, 3-1.
Temple started out strong in the first set. The Owls led 10-5 early on, and held their lead until the Bulls pulled ahead 16-15. The teams traded points for the rest of the set, with South Florida taking the set 25-23.
“We needed to do a better job executing,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “If as an attacker, you get one-on-one situations, you’ve got a single blocker, you’ve got to put the ball down, because that’s the best look you can get. So I think we all need to step up and do a better job.”
In the second set, the Bulls took an 8-5 lead, but Temple tied the match at 13 with an ace by sophomore libero Allyssa Drachslin. Temple took its first lead at 15-14, and hung on to win the set 26-24.
The Owls opened the third set with a 4-0 lead, but the Bulls then scored six unanswered points. Temple would briefly get back on top, 10-9, but then South Florida surged ahead and picked up a 25-20 win.
“The game of volleyball is a game of unforced errors,” Ganes said. “Whoever can minimize the number of unforced errors usually wins the game. And if you’re up 10-5 in the first set, and then 4-0 in the third set, and you still lose the set, clearly you’re making too many mistakes. And that’s what we did. I think our execution was not very clear.”
The Owls’ execution completely gave way in the fourth set, as a dominant South Florida team, leading at times by as much as 12 points, swept past the Owls 25-15. Temple showed some life at the end, fighting off two set points before South Florida won on a kill by the Bulls’ freshman outside/right side hitter Alexus Heidelberg.
“That was a tough loss,” outside hitter Elyse Burkert said. “And I think we definitely have the ability to play better, and we didn’t execute well enough to win.”
Despite the loss, Burkert led the team with 16.5 points and 18 digs. Before the game, Burkert, with her family watching from among the 114 fans, was honored by Temple President Neil D. Theobald for scoring her 1000th career kill in late October.
“That was really cool,” Burkert said after the game. “A thousand kills is kind of a nice achievement to have at the end of four years, just to say I really feel like I did something.”
Temple will finish its season at McGonigle Hall on Friday night against Central Florida. Temple will honor seniors Gabriella Matautia, Emily Carlin, and Burkert for Senior Night.
Don McDermott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.