Every underclassmen on Temple’s bench made sure to be as loud as they could when the starters were announced before Sunday’s match against Tulsa at McGonigle Hall.
They were extra loud when seniors Tyler Davis, Kirsten Overton and Caroline Grattan had their names called.
This was the last game at McGonigle Hall for Temple’s three seniors, and they all helped contribute to the Owls’ 3-1 win over Tulsa.
Overton and Davis continued to play in their normal rotation that they had played for most of the season. But Grattan started for junior outside hitter Irem Asci, playing the first 15 to 20 points of first three sets until Asci returned.
“It felt like freshman year when we all played together,” Overton said. “Freshman year we would all start and play next to each other, and it just felt like déjà vu when Caroline started today.”
Grattan made the most of her time on the court. She finished the match with five kills and two digs, while her fellow seniors combined to add 20 kills, including 12 from Davis. Overton added seven blocks.
“I’m always the type of player who just comes off the bench and tries to contribute,’ Grattan said. “I’ve just always done what has been needed of me and I always stay ready.”
For the first two sets it seemed if Temple had control no matter how close the score would indicate. Temple won the first set 25-16, while hitting 40 percent as a team. Tulsa went on a run toward the end of the second set to make it a one-point game, but Temple scored three straight points to win the set 25-21.
“Tulsa made some really good adjustments to us in the third set,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “They attacked us in a different way, and it made us have to adjust to get back into the rhythm we wanted to play.”
After the break Tulsa made some adjustments to Temple’s block and had its best offensive set of the match. Hitting 26.8 percent as a team and Temple did not have a block in the entire set. Tulsa won the third 25-19.
Temple took an early lead in the fourth set. But Tulsa came back to take a lead late. After the back-and-forth, the Owls won the set 27-25 to clinch the match In the last set Temple doubled its block total for the match adding five in the last set.
“I was having trouble getting into our block in the first couple of sets,” Overton said. “In that fourth set I think we just adjusted well to what they started doing in the third set and I was able to get some key blocks.”
The win for Temple means the Owls finish with just eight losses for the second straight season, finishing 22-8 overall. The team also moved to 15-5 in the American Athletic Conference, which is the same as last season.
This could have been Temple’s last match of the season. The team will know Sunday night if they made NCAA tournament as an at large bid.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com or @_kevinschaeffer