When the Owls left McGonigle Hall on Sunday afternoon after their 3-1 win over Cincinnati, seniors Gabriella Matautia and Elyse Burkert were not at their usual position at the top of the stat sheet — it was freshman Caroline Grattan who led the team with 17 kills, tying her season high.
Grattan has had a breakout rookie campaign this fall, tallying 170 kills and 111 digs. This season’s freshman class has made an impact on the court, with Grattan, Tyler Davis, Kirsten Overton and Mary Claire Tuohy rounding out coach Bakeer Ganes’ 2013 recruiting class.
Recruiting has remained an important part of the program’s success, as Temple’s roster boasts athletes from all around the world. Sophomore Sandra Sydlik is from Germany, while sophomore Alyssa Drachslin’s hometown is Riverside, Calif. Sophomore Alicia Wennberg is from Norway and Matautia came to Temple from Ewa Beach, Hawaii.
“You have to develop connections with club teams,” Ganes said.” It’s all about research, and who you know. It’s kind of like a game we play each year, and it’s up to us to retool the team and stay consistent.”
“With my playing time in Europe I have been able to make connections with many people over there,” Ganes added. “It’s important because the international game has so much talent for volleyball. If you do your research about players from there you would find many skilled players.”
Ganes travels to watch showcase tournaments in four states: California, Texas, Kansas and Florida. Every year, Ganes and his assistants select a certain number of players who they want to watch. The staff then splits up, going to different cities to recruit.
“It’s similar to [Amateur Athletic Union] basketball,” Ganes said. “The USA Volleyball Association sets up these big tournaments to showcase recruits and we have a chance to talk to the athletes and get their mindset about possibly coming to play for Temple. It is challenging because you never know what the players are leaning towards and if they are serious about coming to play for your school.”
Grattan and Davis have seen considerable playing time during their first season with Temple. Grattan has played in 21 of the 23 games and has averaged 8.1 kills a match. Davis has played in 16 matches and averages 5.8 kills per match.
“I started looking at colleges starting my junior year,” Grattan, a Pittsburgh native, said. “My club team carried more weight than my high school team because that is where college coaches go to recruit their players. Bakeer came to see me during the spring of my junior year at one of the bigger tournaments that season. Coach was pleased of how I played so that intensified the recruiting and all of a sudden we were in serious talks about me coming to Temple.”
“We were very fortunate to get Tyler and Caroline on the team,” Ganes said. “Their club directors are very friendly with us and we have talked to them in the past so they were big in the process to get Tyler and Caroline to play for Temple. They each are an incredible talent and it’s been so big for us that they have stepped up and played so much in their first year here.”
Temple wasn’t the only school on Grattan’s radar.
“I was also thinking about going to Penn and was also recruited by a couple small schools, but after I visited Temple and saw the direction their program was going, the decision was pretty easy for my family and I to choose Temple,” Grattan said.
The 2013 recruiting class, along with the rest of the Owls, will embark on a five-match road trip starting with Memphis on Nov. 8.
Rich Fogel can be reached at email@example.com.