Owls place second at Big Five Invitational

The Owls finished up non-conference play with a second place finish at the Big 5 Invitational Saturday.

The Owls lost to Villanova 3-1 Saturday and they finished second at the Big Five Invitational

After the tournament, a disappointed Temple team found a silver lining.

In a match with multiple lead changes, Temple (9-3) lost all three sets to Villanova by four points or less.

“If you take a look at the stat sheet it is a very tight game,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “We were pretty much evenly matched. The scores easily could have gone the other way around and that’s what we need to focus on.”

Ganesharatnam said he wanted his team to focus on defense in all three games this weekend after struggling last weekend at the Cherry and White Challenge.

“I think we played really good defense against Villanova and we played really long rallies,” Ganesharatnam said. “I think overall for the whole weekend, we really improved on defense.”

The Owls earned 66 digs, 10 total blocks and three block errors against the Wildcats.

After a strong effort, senior libero/defensive specialist Kayla Yingling said the team needs to continue to move forward with American Athletic Conference play approaching.

“It is really frustrating,” said Yingling, who earned 16 digs in the defeat. “We really need to focus on our side. We are all really bummed and we could have won, but it just was not there. Now, we just have to let it go.”

Earlier in the day, Temple defeated the University of Pennsylvania 3-0.

The Owls earned 10 total blocks, allowing two block errors in the match. The Owls also tallied 42 digs and limited Penn to 29 kills.

“I think me, [junior middle blocker] Kirsten [Overton] and [sophomore outside hitter] Izzy [Rapacz] are obsessed with getting blocks,” Simmons said after earning one block against Penn. “When we can get blocks in big numbers, it is a really good thing for us and the entire team.”

Blocking is a main priority for Simmons and the Owls this season.

“I was trying to wait a little longer on the blocks, seeing the set and following the set,” Simmons said. “I was trying to hit the hitter where their arm was facing and trying to close the block as much as possible.”

Although Temple couldn’t keep momentum going into the third match of the tournament, Ganesharatnam is pleased with where his teams stands before conference play begins Sept. 25 against South Florida.

“Even though we lost, at least we tried the hardest we can possibly do,” Ganesharatnam said. “And if we do that, we are better off than when we started. I feel really strongly about where we stand than I did on Friday.”

Connor Northrup can be reached at connor.northrup@temple.edu

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