Owls go undefeated on homestand

Team wins five straight, all against conference foes.

Senior Elyse Burkert collected 50 kills during Temple’s recent homestand. | Hua Zong TTN

The Owls continue to defend their home court.

With its most recent win on Sunday against Rutgers, Temple swept a five-match homestand and is 7-1 at McGonigle Hall this season.

“Our goal coming into this home stretch was to win all the matches,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “We wanted to get the maximum out of this stretch to give us a little cushion going into next week, because it is so tough to win on the road.”

Temple collected wins against Southern Methodist University, Houston, Conneticut , Rutgers and Memphis during the streak and is now 6-1 in the conference, and 15-4 overall. Its only loss came in a road match against conference leader Louisville. The Owls are now alone in second place behind the Cardinals.

“We have proven that we can compete with the competitive teams in this conference,” Ganes said.  “We have to move forward and play like this on the road. I think we will have momentum because of this winning streak.”

Seniors Gabriella Matautia and Elyse Burkert continue to be leaders for the Owls, tallying a total of 56 and 50 kills respectively during the homestand. The team currently averages 233 attendees per game.

“We really wanted to finish out our home stretch going 5-0,” Mautatia said. “We have a home court advantage for the first time in, really, all of my time here. It’s awesome to play in these home games when the fans come out and support us like this. To be able to still be undefeated at home at this point in the season is awesome.”

“So many people have come out to watch us play,” Burkert added. “It’s fantastic. It makes it so much fun for us. It feels really good to win here at home.”

McGonigle Hall was renovated with new graphics ahead of the 2013 season. The court has been kind to the Owls so far.

“We are feeling more confident playing with each other,” sophomore Sandra Sydlik said. “When we play here at home we have such a great comfort level with McGonigle that it makes us play a lot better. Coach Ganes always harps on winning at home, because it is a whole new ball game on the road trying to get wins in this conference.”

After nearly a month without a road match, Temple now has to prepare for a trip to Florida. The Owls are scheduled to face Central Florida and South Florida next weekend. Temple split its most recent road matches, beating Cincinnati and falling to Louisville.

“We have made some progressions and hope to continue this for the rest of the season and be even more successful,” Ganes said. “This is a great bunch of girls on the team this year that has developed a team chemistry that makes it easier to play on the court. They know where each player is going to be, they talk a lot and the communication has gotten so much better since the start of the year.”

“We’re growing really strong as a team,” Burkert said. “We know how everyone is going to play and we know where everyone is going to be. The coaching staff has us really prepared for each match and we are starting to really click on all cylinders, and when you go 5-0 on a homestand it just makes the team confidence and chemistry that much better.”

Rich Fogel can be reached at rich.fogel@temple.edu.

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