One night after pulling off one of the biggest upsets in recent years the Owls faced an even bigger challenged hosting No. 20 Dayton.
The Owls entered the match as rising contenders in the A-10, trying to prove they could hang with regular powerhouses like Dayton coming off their five-set stunner over Xavier. Both teams were 3-0 in Atlantic 10 Conference play at the start of the night, but only one could walk away still undefeated.
While Temple had aspirations of playing David against a much more talented Goliath the Flyers had other plans, sweeping the home team in straight sets and knocking them down to 3-1 in conference play.
“I think some people got carried away a little bit,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “We can’t all of a sudden start talking about winning the A-10. I think Dayton wanted to make sure we were very aware of that.”
“They we’re focused,” Ganes said. “They wanted to send a message […] to make sure we know they’re the best team in the conference.”
Dayton asserted their dominance from the outset, taking the first set 25-16 thanks to overpowering offense and a stifling defense.
“We knew Dayton was going to be a good team and we knew we wanted to play well but I don’t think we were as focused on let’s beat this team,” junior outside hitter Elyse Burkert said. “I don’t think our attitude was quite right for this game.”
Temple came into the match clearly outsized against the likes of six-foot, four-inch senior outside hitter Rachel Krabacher. Temple’s tallest athlete, sophomore middle back Jennifer Iacobini stands in at six feet, one inch, in comparison.
“It’s hard for a defense to try to get a ball when there’s no block pretty much because she’s hitting over us,” Iacobini said. “They’re ranked 20th for a reason.”
“They set the middle and their middle just hit over our middles,” Burkert said. “It’s really hard to stop that because your defense doesn’t even know where to play because their angle is the entire court at that point.”
Temple put up a fight in the second set, but only held the lead once in the early going before Dayton took over for good, eventually running away 25-18. The Owls hit just .047 in the set and were blocked four times.
The third set was even worse in front of the home crowd of 227 as temple barely reached double-digit points, falling 25-10 in a set where they never quite had a chance.
“I don’t know what happened that third game,” Iacobini said. “It was a little bit embarrassing.”
“They really improved [after the second set] and put their foot on the gas pedal, but we couldn’t really keep up with them and that’s something we’ve got to learn,” Ganes said.
One night after combining for 34 kills, Burkert and junior outside hitter Gabriella Matautia were held to just ten and six kills, respectively. The duo also tallied 12 combined attack errors.
The Flyers’ sophomore middle back, Isolde Hannan, had a rare double-double with 13 kills and 11 blocking assists, leading the match in both categories. As a team Dayton hit .388 against Temple’s .035, which included 24 attack errors.
“They blocked my tips which really sucks,” Burkert said. “It went so fast it was hard to do anything.”
“It’s not easy to play against Dayton just because it’s a good team,” Ganes said. “It’s not just because they’re so big and physical, they can actually play.”
The Owls have a week to regroup before the head to La Salle to kick off a five-game road swing. They’re hoping this game is just a hiccup in the road of what’s still been an overachieving season.
“What we said when we were walking back to the lockers, ‘That’s the only game we’re losing this season,'” Iacobini said. “And I completely believe in that and I know that we can beat every single team in the conference.”