Women’s volleyball snaps three-game losing streak in final weekend.
It took far longer than the team wanted, but the women’s volleyball team finally came away with the win in a nail bitter against Duquesne on Friday at McGonigle Hall.
The last time the two teams squared off was a 3-0 sweep for the Duquesne, coming off a long night for the Owls in which their flight was canceled and they were forced to arrive in Pittsburgh with little sleep. The second go-around proved much more favorable for Temple, who are in their final weekend of competition after being eliminated from the Atlantic Ten Conference playoffs last weekend.
“Going into my last few games I just want to win, no matter what,” senior outside hitter Collin Wallace said.
The home team jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in front of a rowdy crowd of 216. The Owls were hitting off Duquesne’s blocks effectively. The Dukes were on their heels for much of the first two sets, as sophomore outside hitter Gabriella Matautia put down 11 kills.
“We’ve definitely been practicing that, hitting off the block,” Matautia said. “We take the cushions from the pole and put them up as a block […] and we have to hit off the block at practice for about 20 minutes.”
Duquesne fought back, however, and was able to take the third set with .361 kill percentage. Then the wheels fell off for the Owls in the fourth set, as they found themselves down by as many as 11. The team showed visible frustration with themselves and occasionally the refs.
“We’ve always had a history of getting at it with the refs about some of the calls,” Matautia said.
“We were frustrated,” Wallace said. “We wanted to win. We were up two games and we should’ve taken it in the third.”
With the momentum clearly on the other side, the Owls were able to jump to a quick 4-0 lead in the deciding fifth set. Duquesne climbed back to a 10-8 lead, but Matautia knocked down a kill that sparked a 6-0 to retake the lead.
“I think we just wanted it more,” Wallace said. “Once we had that four-point lead and once we got that four-point lead we were just on a roll.”
“We did change our set, too,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “We made sure Tiffany set the ball a little bit off the net, so that gives the attack a little bit more room to work with. That helped us.”
The Dukes fought off three consecutive game points before Matautia went to the net with the score 14-13 thinking, “Get this last point, come on.”
Matautia put down her match-high 23rd kill of the night and sealed the deal for the Owls.
Matautia was one of four Temple players with a double-double, recording 13 digs. Freshman setter Tiffany Connatser tacked on another 47 assists and 12 digs and Wallace recorded 14 kills and 19 digs.
As a team the Owls were outplayed by Duquesne, at least on the stat sheet. The Dukes out-hit Temple .224 to .153, and recorded 17 team blocks to the home team’s 7.
“The stat sheet only says done side of the story,” Ganes said. “The kids sometimes get caught up in the stats too much, too. This is a good example to show them that stats only show one side of the story.”
Temple also attacked Duquesne’s freshman libero Patti Abshire, who struggled for much of the night despite a match high 27 digs. It’s a weak point they exploited, while having the comfort of one of the A-10’s best liberos, Ganes said, in junior Chelsea Tupuola. Tupuola recorded 19 digs on the night.
“[Tupuola] doesn’t get the credit she deserves,” Ganes said. “She’s probably the most consistent player on the team. Day in, day out I know what I’m going to get out of her.”
The Owls return to action on Sunday in the season finale against Xavier, who is second in the A-10 with a 10-4 conference mark. The team will be celebrating Senior Day, honoring setters Liz Prang and Rikia Trischuk as well as Wallace in their final game on North Broad. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. in McGonigle Hall.
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com.