Coach Bob Bertucci would have preferred a better start to the season, but he has to stick with the cards he’s been dealt.
After starting the season with five straight losses, the Owls have won three of their last four games and seem to be finding their stride.
Expectations were high for the Owls, and now the only way to make it back to the NCAA tournament is by winning the conference, again…
“Obviously we have to rethink our goals at this point,” Bertucci said. “The team did not come back in the shape that would have allowed us to precede the way we originally planned. They let themselves down, and now we’re trying to recover that. So now the focus has to be on winning the conference championship.”
Temple (3-6) returned all the starters from its history-making team.
“I was hoping that we were going to start physically at the same point where we were last year, and it would the matter of the preseason that would get the rust off, because we returned the whole starting team,” Bertucci said.
“But that obviously was not the case. [Our record] doesn’t concern me as much as the way I want to see the team respond.”
This past weekend, the Owls hosted the 2003 Kaepa Temple Volleyball Classic at McGonigle Hall and were able to clean up their record, winning both matches.
In the title match against St Peter’s, senior outside hitter Xu Yun had 17 kills, while junior setter Alison Runk dished out 50 assists.
Next for Temple is a date at LaSalle Sept. 29 for the first of a five-match road trip to begin Atlantic 10 Conference play.
Every team but Xavier has a better record than the Owls.
But Bertucci sees his team in better shape than it started the season but the conditioning that was supposed to be taken care of in the pre- and off-season could take its toll on the team during its longest road swing of the year.
“It’s heavy load physically and mentally, and though this weekend showed we’re not too far off, it’s just a matter of continuing to work on it,” Bertucci said. “And hopefully by the start of conference play, we’ll be where we wanted to be at the start of preseason.”
The Owls know following up to being the surprise team of the NCAA tournament last year does not come without its adversities.
They know they have a bull’s eye on their backs but still believe they can make it to the postseason.
“We’re not getting in under the radar anymore,” Bertucci said. “Everybody is prepared for us, and they’re hanging and waiting to knock us off.”
Hal Greenblatt can be reached at Halman1321@hotmail.com.