The Owls may not have come away with a title at the Seton Hall Invitational this weekend, but Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said the competition will bode well before American Athletic Conference play begins in two weeks.
“We knew it was going to be a very tough tournament and that’s why we wanted to do it,” Ganesharatnam said. “We wanted to get tested before going into conference.”
Temple (4-2) finished its weekend with two wins and one loss, falling in the championship match in straight sets to Seton Hall University.
“This was probably our worst defensive performance all weekend,” Ganesharatnam said. “[Seton Hall] did a great job staying consistent. Even when we tried to put them out of their system, they really got back into system.”
The all-Tournament players for the Owls this weekend included sophomore outside hitter Irem Asci, who had 12 kills in the championship match, and junior outside hitter Tyler Davis, who had 10 kills.
Senior setter Sandra Sydlik totaled 34 of Temple’s 39 assists against Seton Hall. Despite losing, she said this weekend was a good preparation into learning the holes they need to fill in order to improve.
“It’s also good we play these tournaments, because you learn,” Sydlik said. “It was our strongest tournament. We saw a lot of what we had to improve, especially in the last game. We always want to win at the highest level.”
Throughout the match, Temple struggled finding a way around Seton Hall’s blockers, making it hard for starters Davis and Asci to find a gap to win points.
In the first set, the Owls and Pirates exchanged long rallies, but it was Seton Hall who showed its strong defense, winning it 25-23.
“[Seton Hall’s] defense was a big factor,” Sydlik said. “Compared to our defense, we just didn’t pick up enough balls, and didn’t respond in the same way. I think that was the biggest issue. In order to compete, we just can’t make those mistakes.”
Ganesharatnam said Seton Hall was able to perform well offensively during long rallies, and that Temple’s lack of mental focus was a factor within the closing stages of the match.
Seton Hall pulled away at 22-21 in the second set to scoring three of the final four points to win it, 25-22.
“I think it all started when we had set the setters where it was really tough for them to score,” Ganesharatnam said. “We didn’t do a good job serve receiving today.”
Mark McCormick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org