Sophomore fuels Owls’ resurgence

Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Davenport has been a key piece in the Owls’ success since switching positions.

Sophomore outside hitter, Taylor Davenport, is becoming essential to the Owls offense. | ERIKA MONN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Since joining Temple Volleyball last season, sophomore Taylor Davenport has transitioned from middle blocker to outside hitter, becoming an important component of the Owls’ success on the court. Davenport’s 279 kills lead the Owls this season, 108 more than second-place Jelena Prolic. 

In 2021, Davenport was fourth in the American Athletic Conference in blocks with 126, led Temple with 1.14 blocks per set and broke the Owls’ single-game blocks record with 15. So as this season approached, head coach Linda Hampton-Keith’s decision to switch her position was a controversial decision.  

“She’s not perfect, she’s still making mistakes,” Hampton-Keith said. “She’s going to be a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.” 

This year, Davenport is more of an offensive threat than defensive one. She began the season as a second option but showed promise as she adjusted to becoming an outside hitter. 

“Of course, when you start something new, of course you struggle,” Davenport said.  

She tallied 17 kills in Temple’s first win of the season against the University of Delaware (10-5, 6-1 Colonial Athletic Association), showing her potential to become a key player in her role. She delivered a breakout performance against St. Francis College (7-14, 0-4 Northeast Conference) when she recorded 27 kills in a five-set match victory.  

Davenport has enjoyed the switch from middle to outside hitter, she said. She has taken a match-by-match approach in her training, and when her performances were sub-par, she continued to rely on the people around her for guidance.  

“The transition was really fun,” Davenport said.  “I really love to have my coaches and teammates behind me supporting me through it.”  

After a disappointing loss to Wichita State University (8-7, 3-1 American) to start conference play for the Owls, Davenport was benched for the next two games after hitting -.167 percent and .048 percent in the first two games of conference play.  

Davenport experienced a resurgence after returning to Philadelphia to play Temple’s first home games in a month, recording 24 kills and hitting .178 percent in their first conference win of the season against Tulane University (6-10, 1-4 American). 

The team’s success has seen a visible improvement too, already reaching their win total from last year with seven victories in just 17 played so far this season.  

The Owls needed a boost of offense to succeed this season and Davenport has been the most important piece for the Owls’ attack. 

“She has been a leader for us as far as kills and getting kills,” Hampton-Keith said.  

Even though Davenport has been the Owls’ main source of kills to begin the season, she is still trying to improve her play around the net as the year progresses, a quality evident to her teammates.  

“She just wants to be really good,” said sophomore outside hitter Jaaliyah Evans. “She just wants to be a good volleyball player.” 

The Owls are currently 7-10 with a 1-5 conference record after a tough loss to the University of Cincinnati on Oct. 7, but this is only the beginning for the team as they attempt to achieve their goals of playing for a top conference seed. 

If Davenport begins to play at a consistent level, she can be a huge piece for the Owls for years to come. But right now, the sophomore is looking to help the team in any way she can. 

“I wanna be able to manage my shots and be a better hitter for my team and score points,” Davenport said.  

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.