Temple’s sophomores ease into new roles

Carla Guennewig and Hannah Vandegrift are leading off the court.

Sophomore middle blocker Carla Guennewig and sophomore setter Hannah Vandegrift have helped new faces on the team adjust to life at Temple — both on and off the court.

Guennewig, from Münster, Germany, used her transition from Europe to the United States to help sophomore middle blocker Iva Deak, who is from Croatia, with the same transition.

“We [international players] often go through the same troubles, the same experiences, and we even have the same classes sometimes,” Guennewig said. “So we are able to talk to each other and help each other, which probably isn’t a problem for the people who can speak English fluently.”

Likewise, Vandegrift helped junior setter Kyra Coundourides learn the ins and outs of Temple’s offensive system. As soon as practice started in the summer, Vandegrift showed how the team runs certain plays, sets up its defense and other key facets of the way the team plays.

With only one freshman on the roster, everyone on the team has chipped in to help outside hitter Dana Westfield become accustomed to college. But the sophomores have given her advice based on what they experienced when they came to campus for the first time just a year ago.

“I think we’ve done a good job with the new girls, since we recently just went through that process,” Guennewig said. “We tell them what to do, what our coaches expect from all of us and we expect as teammates.”

Other than helping others coming to the team, Guennewig and Vandegrift are settling into their increased roles in their second year on the team. Both have felt some added pressure, academically and athletically.

“I think we almost feel more pressure on the court than off the court,” Vandegrift said. “I think we’ve become ready for everything on the court, and we’ve become used to how we play and how we practice. But I at least feel a little more pressure off the court.”

On the court, both Guennewig and Vandegrift have seen action in 27 sets. At 6-foot-2 inches, Guennewig is one of the taller players on the team. She often comes in to add size to Temple’s front row block. She has eight blocks in her limited action and offensively has 21 kills and four aces.

Vandegrift’s time on the court has been mostly in the back row, helping with the defense. She’s usually on the court at the same time as Coundourides, which gives the team a two-setter look and makes it harder for opposing teams to take the setter out with a serve. This helps Temple get better looks offensively. Vandegrift has 91 assists, which ranks second on the team, as well as 31 digs, three kills and one ace.

“You really learn to play your role on the team, now that we’ve been here for a year and we are not the young players,” Guennewig said. “We don’t have to look for how everything looks anymore. And now we know how the season goes, and what to expect and it is a little bit easier to our mindset right for the end of the season.”

Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at kevinschaeffer@temple.edu or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.

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