A long break from competition couldn’t interrupt the volleyball team’s October surge.
The Owls returned from a 10-day layoff to continue their success over Atlantic Ten conference teams. They put away George Washington, 3-1 (30-22, 30-24, 27-30, 30-25), on Friday and dominated Duquesne, 3-0, on Saturday, in their last two regular season matches at McGonigle Hall.
The Owls (11-14, 8-1) are on a four-game winning streak against conference opponents and are one game behind Dayton for first place in the A-10 standings.
After finishing September with an abysmal 3-11 record, the Owls improved to 8-3 for the month of October with seven of their eight victories coming in conference play.
Before the Duquesne game, seniors Jill Fetrow, Laura Leis and Alison Runk were given commemorative volleyballs and jerseys in honor of their last home match at McGonigle Hall.
“I just made up my mind that, ‘Hey, this is my last game, no pressure,'” said Runk, describing her feelings about playing her last home match at Temple.
Against the Colonials, freshman Yue Liu led the way with a game-high 17 kills, while Runk notched 42 assists.
The Owls showed a lot of rust in the victory, missing an opportunity to put the Colonials away in three games and committing a total of 34 errors.
“We played awful in Friday night’s game,” coach Bob Bertucci said. “The only thing that helped us was that George Washington was playing just as awful as we were.”
Runk attributed most of the team’s flatness to the long layoff between matches.
“It definitely affected everyone,” Runk said. “I know I wasn’t on top of my game. It just wasn’t as smooth.”
Bertucci thought it was important for the team to get the rest, but had mixed feelings toward the significance of the break.
“It helped us because we got a lot of work done, but it hurt us also because we weren’t as sharp,” he said.
Against Duquesne, the Owls limited their mistakes and never gave the Dukes a chance to win a game. Again, Yue Liu led the team with 17 kills and Runk posted 49 assists.
The Owls recognized and discussed their weaknesses in a players meeting held before the win.
“We came together in a team meeting this morning and this game was like night and day,” Runk said.
Bertucci credited the team meeting for the Owls’ improved play against the Dukes.
“They talked over the things they had to do to be successful today,” Bertucci said. “They’re starting to accept responsibility, individually and as a team.”
The Owls have five consecutive road games before the A-10 championship begins on Nov. 19.
Runk said good communication and solid serving are key aspects.
“When you get closer to the postseason everyone steps up their game and matches get really close, so we really need to come together as team,” she said.
The Owls open the road trip against Xavier and then take on Dayton. Xavier defeated the Owls earlier this season, handing them their only conference loss.
Bertucci wants to give the team plenty of time to prepare during the arduous road trip.
“We’ll try to get in the gym a day before, so that we can get a little more comfortable with the facility,” Bertucci added. “We have to realize that to win the conference championship we have to be able to win two games in a row on the road.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at email@example.com.