The No. 20 Billikens beat the Owls, 3-1, on Saturday’s Senior Night.
McGonigle Hall was set to celebrate Saturday night with the “Dig Pink” campaign to support the fight against Breast Cancer and Senior Night for the volleyball team’s Jackie Morrison and Yun Yi Zhang.
Unfortunately, the No. 20 Saint Louis Billikens (22-6 overall, 14-1 Atlantic Ten Conference) had the biggest celebration, as they clinched at least a share of the A-10 regular-season title. St. Louis defeated the Owls, 3 games to 1 game, by scores of 23-25, 32-30, 25-22 and 25-17.
The Billikens saw a different style of play from Temple (13-11 overall, 9-6 A-10) in the A-10 finale, as the Owls’ starting lineup was shaken up with the absence of junior middle back Jessica Antosz. Still, the Owls shocked the Billikens in the opening set, 25-23. Temple blew two game points in a row due to a lack of communication, but junior outside hitter Jovana Radojevic slammed one home down the middle to end it.
Temple got out to a quick start in Game 2 but traded points for most of the game. St. Louis finally pulled ahead, 24-19, but the Owls answered. Junior middleback Cayleigh Ashman and outside hitter Zhang put together points to eventually even the score at 24. Each team went back and forth for the next five points, including a two-minute rally. But the Billikens capitalized with a spike from junior outside hitter Megan Boken after a service error by freshman defensive specialist Danielle Carrozza.
Communication errors resurfaced in Games 3 and 4 for the Owls. Coach Bob Bertucci’s squad did manage to keep the errors to a minimum in the matchup but still committed one error in Game 3 and six in Game 4.
“We had them on the ropes a couple times,” Bertucci said. “It’s real tough to win when you’re down a key part in your offense [Antosz]. We need to do better communicating and just finish.”
Both seniors posted double-doubles in their send off. Zhang finished with 23 kills and 12 digs, while Morrison recorded 45 assists and 23 digs. Junior defensive specialist Ariel Pierre also chimed in with 23 digs. Ashman had nine kills. The well-rounded St. Louis squad had four girls in double-digits for kills, led by Boken with 20.
The Owls now get set to travel to Dayton for the A-10 tournament. Temple will be the fourth seed in the six-team tournament and will play George Washington Friday. Temple and GW split their meetings this year, with each team sweeping the other, 3-0.
“We’ve got to get healthy,” Bertucci said. “We’ll most likely end up seeing St. Louis again, and now that we’ve seen them and they’ve seen us, they know we’re no pushover.”
Bertucci has made the tournament every year since he’s been at Temple except for his rookie year. Winning the A-10 tournament will most likely be the only way for the Owls to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Christian Audesirk can be reached at email@example.com.