Seniors’ bond extends off the court

Senior captains Sandra Sydlik and Alyssa Drachslin have played 84 games together.

Sandra Sydlik sets the ball for freshman Carla Guennewig in the Owls’ 3-0 win against Central Florida. | Donald Otto TTN

While the volleyball managers set up the nets in McGonigle Hall for a Nov. 3 practice, Director of Operations Ed Lowery asked “Where is Sonny and Cher?”

Senior libero/defensive specialist Alyssa Drachslin and senior setter Sandra Sydlik, who have played 85 college games together, share the role of captain for the 2015 season. Lowery gave the duo the nickname “Sonny and Cher,” because of the time they spend together.

“I think all of us seniors have become really close, but Sandra and I have been playing together on the court since freshman year,” Drachslin said. “Off the court, she is one of my best friends.”

The duo has led  the Owls to an 20-8 record and an 11-5 conference record, which ranks second in the American Athletic Conference. Six regular season games remain for the seniors, who are the only remaining players from the 2012 freshman class.

This year, Drachslin leads the Owls with 494 digs, ranking No. 37 in the NCAA in digs per set with an average of 4.94.

“It’s definitely weird,” Drachslin said. “You have seen it all the years before with girls leaving before you, and you’re like, ‘That is so sad, what are they going to do?’ It is just a lot different.”

Drachslin befriended former Temple middle blocker Annemarie Boehm from Erlangen, Germany in 2012. Through Boehm, Drachslin became friendly with Sydlik, a Berlin, Germany native.

“I really appreciate the level attitudes that come in from the global and international attitudes,” Drachslin said. “I think, as an American, I have traveled some growing up, so I got to see different cultures. So I can really appreciate that from Sandra and other international students.”

Sydlik recently hit the 3,000-assist mark, putting her No. 5 on Temple’s all-time assists list. Sydlik has totaled 1,076 assists this season while averaging 11.21 per set.

The senior setter balances being friends and teammates with Drachslin.

“We never really take breaks, it is volleyball 24/7,” Sydlik said. “I think we are both on the same page, which definitely helps, so when we talk it is in a professional way, but we can separate on and off the court pretty well.”

Houston defeated the Mustangs 3-0 Sept. 25 in Southern Methodist’s only conference loss of the season. Southern Methodist swept Temple 3-0 Oct. 9 in Dallas, Texas.

Temple’s season goal is to win The American, but the Owls currently sit behind Southern Methodist (23-3, 13-1 The American) in the conference standings. The Owls rank No.90 in the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Ratings Percentage Index.

The Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament consitsts of 64 teams. Senior defensive specialist Kayla Yingling said despite the team’s RPI, Drachslin and Sydlik are leading the team in the right direction.

“They work really well together,” Yingling said. “They are the ones who are on the court the whole time. Alyssa is more outspoken. When we are looking for someone to say something, she sets it up right away. Sandra is quieter. She says things when she needs to.”

The team’s final home game is Nov. 22 against Southern Methodist at McGonigle Hall.

As the team’s goal of winning the conference fades away with six games remaining, Drachslin and Sydlik are focused on enjoying their time on the court.

“Four years together through this whole experience is kind of an inseparable bond,” Drachslin said. “Being bonded as teammates is a type of relationship that is hard to explain, but being true friends on a team is impossible to explain.”

Connor Northrup can be reached at

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