Temple (9-3, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) fell to Tulsa (8-4, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-20) on Wednesday night at McGonigle Hall in the first game of AAC play, breaking the Owls’ three-game winning streak.
The match was a big-hitting game as the top two hitters in the AAC, Tulsa outside hitter Kayley Cassaday and Temple outside hitter Taylor Davenport, faced off and led their teams in kills with 18 and nine respectively.
“We hit great,” said head coach Linda Hampton-Keith. “They just hit way better.”
The first set was an intense battle as the Owls tried to keep up with the Golden Hurricanes’ offense. Temple started the match with a loud crowd and bench, and the Diamond Band came to play as well, doing their part to push the momentum of the game towards the Owls.
“I feel like we went in with high energy,” said Temple libero Falanika Danielson. “I think when we have the jerseys on and the game and actual opponents, it’s just kind of a different stress atmosphere.”
However, the energy did not last the whole set and the bench became quieter when Tulsa went on a 6-0 run. The Golden Hurricanes finished the first set with 16 kills and 18 digs, while the Owls had 11 kills and 15 digs. Tulsa took the set 25-19 with their better offense and defense.
That momentum carried Tulsa into the second set, as the Golden Hurricanes went on a 12-2 run to take an 18-8 lead. While Davenport had a block and a kill back-to-back, Tulsa rattled off a 5-0 run and won set two 25-16.
“We weren’t just playing freely and kind of flowing, and so we got kind of stuck,” Hampton-Keith said. “I thought we could have been a little bit better defensively tonight.”
The third set consisted of long rallies. Temple was determined to not let any balls hit the floor while down 2-0 and the Owls finished the game with 41 digs.
“I think [the back row] improved,” Danielson said. “It went from being dug into staying calm and reading plays.”
Temple and Tulsa tied set three final eight times, but Tulsa’s 18 kills put the team over the top, winning 25-20. Tulsa finished the match with 52 kills, 18 of which were Cassaday’s. Davenport had nine of Temple’s 32 kills.
Hampton-Keith was proud of the offense but felt they weren’t aggressive enough to win.
“We just need to spend some time on blocking and on defense a little bit more,” Hampton-Keith said. “But we’re always focused on playing our best volleyball.”
The Owls continue conference play this weekend against Florida Atlantic (8-6, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) on Saturday and Sunday. This is the first of six times the Owls will play back-to-back games against the same opponent.
“It’s only one opponent that we’re preparing for, so it’ll be a little bit different,” Hampton-Keith said. “I’ve never done this before, so it’ll be a new experience.”