Bakeer Ganes remembers his team was predicted to finish ninth in the American Athletic Conference poll. After Friday night’s 3-1 win against Houston, which saw Temple move to 13-6 overall and 4-3 in The American, the Owls coach was quick to note how tough it is to win in the conference.
“We do understand that in order to be competitive and successful in this conference day in and day out we need to perform at a very high level,” Ganes said.
Friday night, Temple got off to a quick start in the first set and played the role of frontrunner for the majority of the set en route to a 25-19 set victory. The Owls carried this momentum into the second set in which they initially led, 10-2. However,the Cougars clawed back and eventually won it, 25-19. During the usual 10-minute intermission after the first two sets, Ganes said he wanted his team to relax.
“That was probably the only negative we had in this match,” Ganes said. “Houston just made a run. At that point it’s 1-1 and there’s still a lot of points to be played.”
But Ganes felt for the most part, the team felt the same way he did and responded by winning the next two sets by scores of 25-17 and 25-16, respectively, to clinch its fourth conference victory.
“I didn’t have to do much because the girls were very focused,” Ganes said. “The performance today was exceptional.”
Sophomore outside hitter Tyler Davis stayed hot after being named to the American Athletic Conference weekly honor roll for her performance in last weekend’s matches against Cincinnati and Memphis, leading the Owls in kills with 17. Davis was also one of five Owls to have double digits in digs on Friday night.
Moving forward, Ganes acknowledged while his team is off to a good start in The American, the Owls have to remain focused.
“We know how tough this conference is,” Ganes said. “Anybody can beat anybody. We’re just trying to get better every match we play.”
Greg Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @g_frank6.