Dressed in black compression pants and a long sleeve Temple shirt, Sandra Sydlik prepared for practice at McGonigle Hall last Tuesday afternoon.
After a 9-5 record in 14 American Athletic Conference games and facing six more contests against opponents in The American before the end of the regular season, Sydlik and Temple are focused on practice.
“I think you have to practice 100 percent to play 80 percent,” the senior setter said. “You never really play at 100 percent, I think that is just kind of a rule.”
The Owls, who are in second place in The American, have not won back-to-back games since a 3-0 loss to Southern Methodist, the No. 1 team in The American, Oct. 2.
Temple has not dropped consecutive contests this season either.
“Every team got better and every team is better than last year, so we need to take opponents just as serious as if it was SMU,” Sydlik said. “We need to play every game like it’s our last.”
With six conference games remaining, Sydlik said the team must stay focused on improving its 9-5 conference record.
“I think we have to think now more game by game and not look at big picture,” Sydlik said. “We obviously had our goal to win conference and be in the top three, but I definitely think we can change our approach for the next games and refocus.”
While currently in second place in the conference, Temple will play Connecticut Nov. 18 and Southern Methodist Nov. 22. Both teams defeated the Owls in their previous matchups.
Sophomore middle blocker Janine Simmons said getting through the team’s final six games will be Temple’s toughest test of the season.
“The middle of the season is kind of a difficult point, just because you have to stay real motivated,” Simmons said. “We want to focus on the aspects of practice and wanting to get better, so when we play teams again, we don’t plateau. So we show we are getting better as well.”
Simmons, who did not play in Temple’s 3-0 win Sunday against Houston, said Temple is currently struggling with capitalizing on key moments in the team’s matches, which is hindering its ability to win the contest.
“Right now some of our problems lie with putting balls away,” Simmons said. “Sometimes there are really long rallies, and we can’t put them away. And we will hit it at a person rather than in a spot, so I think things shift around with what we need to work on.”
Temple plays five of its final six games at McGonigle Hall, where the team is 10-3 this season.
The team will start its stretch of five-consecutive home games against Central Florida, who the Owls defeated 3-0 Sept. 27, Friday.
“I think we are all at the same page,” Sydlik said. “We are all staying together even after some unfortunate losses, but we still stay together.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at email@example.com.