Temple University volleyball (7-24, 3-17 The American Athletic Conference) pulled out its third conference win of the season, beating East Carolina University (9-20, 5-15 The American) 3-2 in its final game on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s huge, it’s been a really tough season,” said head coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam. “This group of girls have been doing this since June 2020.”
Throughout the first set, the Owls stayed up at the net and hit strong down the line, leading them to a 25-21 win.
During the second set, Temple took an early 7-1 lead. However, the Owls repeatedly set the ball to graduate student outside hitter Miray Bolukbasi, and their predictability allowed the Pirates to make a comeback, ultimately winning 25-20.
In the third set, the Owls prioritized defensive efficiency by getting up at the net and blocking the ball. Despite this, they struggled in their rotation and passing the ball around, which the Pirates took advantage of winning the set 25-17.
Temple shined in the final two sets.
In the fourth set, Temple’s defense made solid blocks that, combined with Bolukbasi’s strong hits on offense, allowed them to win 25-21, forcing a fifth set.
The fifth and final set was the Owls’ most passionate of the season.
Graduate student outside hitter Katerina Papazoglou worked hard to defend serves and strong hits from ECU’s senior outside hitter Natalie Tyson. The Owls were successful, ending the set with a score of 15-12.
Bolukbasi ended her Temple career with a career-high of 28 kills in Saturday’s match, and was recognized for the Owls’ senior night.
Papazoglou was recognized for her fifth year with the Owls, and for recording her 1000th career dig in the match against Wichita State University on Nov. 12.
“This was a great performance from her,” Ganesharatnam said. “It’s a special day for her, senior night, we needed it from her and she did it.”
Junior outside hitters Gem Grimshaw and Xeryah Salanoa were also recognized for senior night. The two are listed as juniors because the NCAA gave players an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re all just mentally exhausted,” Ganesharatnam said. “ For them to put up a performance, put up a fight like this at the end, really speaks for the character and the willingness and determination to finish strong.”