The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing put the sport of volleyball directly in center stage, viewed around the clock by nations all over the world.
With strong showings on both the male and female sides, the United States made a statement that volleyball is a true American sport, as its men’s and women’s teams won gold and silver medals, respectively.
Meanwhile, on North Broad Street, the volleyball team is doing its best to follow the lead of its professional counterparts.
And so far, so good.
The Owls opened up the Atlantic Ten Conference portion of their schedule with four wins in a row before falling last Sunday to Saint Louis.
All told, the Cherry and White currently stand at 11-7 overall, with a 4-1 record in A-10 play that puts them in first place in the East Division.
Those results have done enough to please junior setter Jackie Morrison, who leads the team with 710 assists. The Stony Brook, N.Y., native has also added 43 kills and 106 digs on the season.
“I feel really good,” she said. “I’m excited. We look better this year.”
Last year, the Owls finished with a 9-4 record in A-10 play, a mark the squad is eager to improve on this season.
Their coach, Bob Bertucci, who is entering his 29th season as Division I coach, looks at the team’s confidence and its chemistry and how it applies to its play.
“The girls get along with each other great,” he said. “Their energy is good. The girls want to be successful.”
After a distinguished career at Army, Rutgers-Newark and Tennessee, Bertucci joined Temple in 1995. He boasts a 645-338 overall record after this weekend’s games, including 293 wins in 14 seasons with Temple.
This distinguished career allows the coach to provide his team with insight toward improving the squad.
“We need to clean up our game,” Bertucci said. “The team is young, and obviously the more they play the more mature they get, and the better they will take care of the ball.”
Paramount to that is the play of junior outside hitter Yun Yi Zhang, who fronts the team with 323 kills and stands in third place with 56 blocks. She is largely responsible for putting points on the scoreboard for the Owls.
Bertucci and the rest of his squad will need her to continue her strong play as the Cherry and White prepare for a road trip to Ohio this weekend to take on Dayton Friday and Xavier Saturday. Both the Flyers and Musketeers are currently undefeated in A-10 Conference play at 2-0, with the Flyers looking to defend last year’s A-10 Championship.
The Owls don’t return home until Oct. 17 against George Washington for the first of four consecutive matches at McGonigle Hall.
Evan Macy can be reached at email@example.com.