Temple continues hot start in conference play

The Owls have now won four straight conference games and five straight overall after beating Southern Methodist in five sets on Sunday in Dallas.

Last year, Temple defeated Southern Methodist in November to end the Mustangs’ 16-game winning streak and avenge a loss in the previous month.The Owls stopped another Mustangs’ winning streak, this time five games, when they beat them on Sunday in Dallas.

Temple (12-4, 5-1 American Athletic Conference), took the match in five sets to knock the Mustangs out of sole possession of first place in The American. Now, there is a three-way tie between Southern Methodist, Cincinnati and Temple top of the conference.

“Whenever you can get a road win you take it,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “It was really big to get two wins this weekend. It is good to be at the top right now but we know it is still very early in the season, so we are taking everything one match at a time.”

The Owls took an early lead in the match. Temple won the first set 25-19 after getting out to as much as a six-point lead. The Owls held off a late set rally to take the second set 25-23.

“Our margin of error in the first two sets was really low, and that helped us a lot early on,” Ganesharatnam said. “Southern Methodist is a good team and we had to play well to take those sets.”

Southern Methodist started a comeback, winning the third set 25-21, then winning the fourth set 25-19. The match seemed similar to last season’s matchup. The Mustangs went up two sets to none before Temple won three sets in a row to win the match.

Unlike last season the home team could not comeback and win the last three sets. Temple took the fifth set 15-9 to end the match.

“I think today was just two really good teams playing some really good volleyball,” Ganesharatnam said. “We had plenty of people contribute offensively, and our service attack and defense also performed well.”

Junior outside hitter Irem Asci continued to lead the Owls. She led the team in kills with 19 and finished with a double-double, adding 17 digs. Other offensive contributors included junior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz and senior outside hitter Tyler Davis, who both finished with 12 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Iva Deak impacted the game defensively with eight blocks.

After four games outside of Philadelphia, Temple returns to McGonigle Hall for a weekend against two teams from Florida. Temple plays South Florida Friday at 7 p.m. and Central Florida Sunday at 1 p.m. The game Sunday is Temple’s annual Dig Pink for Breast Cancer game.

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

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