Owls rally down two sets to defeat Memphis

Temple won its third straight match, coming back to defeat Memphis in five sets Sunday at Elma Roane Fieldhouse.

The Owls rallied after losing the first two sets to defeat the Memphis Tigers in five sets in Memphis on Sunday.

Temple (10-4, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) fell behind early, dropping the first two sets 22-25 and 21-25. The team rebounded, winning the third and fourth sets 25-17 and 25-19 respectively, before taking the winner-take-all fifth set 15-9.

After falling down two sets to none, the Owls reassessed their game plan, but were confident that they would get the victory.

“All we had to do was win the next three sets,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “It’s like going into the game and having a goal to beat the team three to nothing.”

Junior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz notched eight kills, while senior outside hitter Tyler Davis recorded 11 and a block. Junior outside hitter Irem Asci helped lead the Owls in the comeback, recording 23 kills and 22 digs, while also adding an ace to her stat line.

Ganesharatnam and his staff swiftly adapted the game plan to ensure that the team would have a chance to win the match.

“We brought [senior outside hitter Caroline Grattan] in to play back row, and we brought [junior setter Kyra Coundourides] in to play front row, just because we had a hard time getting the timing right for our blocks,” Ganesharatnam said.

The players responded to the changes, as the team’s hitting rose from 14.85 percent in the first two sets to 38.4 in the last three. The Owls hit a game-high 55.6 percent in the third set.

Temple won its third straight match, but wants more consistency with a little more than half the season left to play. The Owls’ next game is on the road against Tulsa on Friday.

“We played tremendously in three sets and struggled in two,” Ganesharatnam said. “We have to focus on being more consistent.”

Varun Sivakumar can be reached at varun.sivakumar@temple.edu or on Twitter @VarunSivakumar.

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