Temple finishes sweep in first tournament of the season

Junior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz led team in kills, aces and digs during straight sets victory.

Temple finished off Hampton University in three sets to complete the sweep of the Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia Temple Invitational and improve to 2-0 on the season.

The Owls withstood a comeback attempt at the end of the first set after leading by as much as nine points. Defense fueled Hampton’s comeback, as the team finished the set with 11 blocks and forced Temple to commit 12 attack errors. After the Pirates tied the set at 23, the Owls secured the set with two straight points.

“We were more out of system than I would’ve liked to be,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “And that put us in a couple of tough situations but we were able to bounce back and win the set.“

The second set was more one-sided with Temple winning 25-15. Junior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz and junior middle blocker Janine Simmons led Temple to have a more efficient second set, hitting 29.6 percent in the second set compared to 11.9 percent in the first.

“In the second set we were able to get in a better rhythm and have a better feel for each other,” senior outside hitter Caroline Grattan. “We were able to make the adjustments we needed to with our attacks.”

The third set was back and forth to start, but momentum swung the Owls’ way after Irem Asci entered the game. The junior outside hitter finished the final set with three kills and an ace.

This match featured five different Owls as key parts of rotation compared to Friday’s match. Simmons and Grattan knew going into the tournament how the playing time would be split so they could prepare.

“[Ganesharatnam] let us know Friday who was going to play when,” Simmons said. “That gave us time to prepare knowing we were playing [Saturday] as our first real game action and were about to get the jitters out.”

At the conclusion of match, standout players received awards for the tournament. Rapacz earned tournament MVP honors, while Asci and junior setter Kyra Coundourides earned All-Tournament team honors.

Temple will play the University of Alabama and Virginia Tech next weekend in Puerto Rico. Temple hopes to build off of their sweep this weekend.

“I think the biggest takeaway from this weekend was gaining confidence in ourselves,” Simmons said. “Starting out [2-0] is big for us, we started 4-0 in conference play last year and it was the same type of confidence boost.”

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

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