When putting together Temple’s slate of games in 2015, coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam and his assistant coaches had one thing on their minds — improving the non-conference schedule.
After winning 24 games last season and missing out on the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship, Ganesharatnam said a difficult out-of-conference schedule could help Temple avoid missing out on the tournament again this upcoming season.
“We want to be the best in the country, not just in the conference, but non-conference as well,” Ganesharatnam said. “We did not receive a bid last year, so we felt like we had to play some really strong non-conference teams.”
Temple will open up its season at home with the Temple Invitational on Aug. 28, where it will be hosting the University of Oregon, who advanced to the Sweet 16 of the Women’s Volleyball Championships last season, as well as the United States Naval Academy and St. John’s University at the tournament on Aug. 29.
Following the Invitational, Temple will travel to South Orange, New Jersey to compete in the Seton Hall Invitational, where it will open up play against Hofstra University , followed up by matches against the University of Notre Dame and Seton Hall University.
The Owls close out conference play with the Cherry & White Challenge, where they will host the University of Montana, Duquesne University and Binghamton University at McGonigle Hall followed by the Philadelphia Big 5 Tournament on Sept. 18 and 19.
“Our non-conference schedule is even stronger than last year and hopefully it gets ourselves prepared for conference play,” Ganesharatnam said. “Because we travel a lot in conference, we wanted a situation where we didn’t have to travel too much in non-conference play, but still find very attractive opponents to play us.”
Despite Temple playing 10 of its 20 conference games on the road, the Owls will host eight of their 12 non-conference games. Last season, the Owls finished with a 12-1 home record and Ganesharatnam said the team is looking forward to the opportunity to have 18 matches inside McGonigle Hall.
“We are very excited about that aspect of the schedule,” Ganesharatnam said. “Hopefully it will give students and fans a great opportunity to follow the team more often.
After finishing second in the American Athletic Conference last season and totaling the most wins since the 2002 season, the Owls will look to build off their 2014 season.
“When you have a successful season, it is harder to repeat it,” Ganesharatnam said. “It is hard to get to the top, but even harder to stay at the top. We constantly improve the program every year and we are at the stage now where we are not always necessarily the underdog all the time, which is a new situation.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org