Owls knock off conference leaders

Temple handed Central Florida its first conference loss of the season Sunday.

The Owls sat three points away from victory against the first-place team in the American Athletic Conference, Central Florida, and Bakeer Ganes called timeout.

Temple had a 22-13 lead in the fourth set before UCF would reel off five points in a row to move within four. But Ganes wasn’t even talking about volleyball with his team as the Owls proceeded to put the finishing touches on a 3-1 victory for their eighth straight win.

“When you’re so close sometimes you get overwhelmed in that moment,” Ganes said. “We didn’t talk much about volleyball to be honest with you.  We just joked around a little bit to take the pressure off because the girls at that point know what to do when it comes to volleyball.”

Earlier on in the match, a similar juncture was needed for Ganes to calm his team down after UCF won a 25-14 first set and hit .481 in the process.

“I think the beginning of the match kind of showed what kind of difficult team they are to face,” Ganes said. “I think we kind of had to settle in a little bit, calm down the nerves a little bit, and that’s probably one of the reasons we struggled a little bit in the beginning.”

Freshman outside hitter thought the Owls weren’t at their best early on.

“I think it was more on us than them,” Peric said. “We were the ones that cracked there in the set first.”

However, sophomore middle blocker Kirsten Overton said the team rebounded nicely in sets two, three, and four, which it won by scores of 25-19, 25-17 and 25-20.

“I think we were ready to shut them down,” Overton said.  “We took that game to heart and we used it to re-fire us.”

The Owls have won eight in a row and are now 20-6 overall and 11-3 in The American, trailing only UCF (20-6, 13-1) by two games in the conference standings. However, there is no sense of complacency within the squad, Overton said.

“We’re still not done,” Overton said. “We’ve come a long way but we’re still not done. I want No. 1 in the conference.”

Ganes went on to say his team remains very lowly amid its hot streak, trying to take things one game at a time.

“We understand how much work we have to put in every time we have to face an opponent in this conference,” Ganes said.  “It’s obvious the season’s not over today.”

Greg Frank can be reached at greg.frank@temple.edu or on Twitter @g_frank6.

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