On the final day of the Penn Invitational, Temple beat La Salle before losing in five sets to Penn. The matchup with the Quakers was the second loss of the season for the Owls, snapping a seven-match winning streak. Temple now stands at 7-2 overall, matching its best start since 2001.
In the 10 a.m. match against La Salle (1-10), Temple won three sets to one (25-18, 25-15, 20-25 and 25-16). Senior Gabriella Matautia led the Owls with 14 kills, while senior Emily Carlin tallied 12 kills. Coach Bakeer Ganes used this game against a weaker opponent to give his regular players a little rest and let some of his younger players get some experience. Freshmen Caroline Grattan and Tyler Davis and sophomores Kayla Yingling and Alicia Wennberg all saw significant playing time. Grattan stood out the most with an impressive 9 kill, 13 dig performance.
“It was a good game because I was able to insert different lineups to give some people that have not had the opportunity to compete,” Ganes said. “We played some of the freshman just to give them some experience. We just wanted to get some fresh bodies in there because we knew it was a long tournament, with two matches today and the break was not very long at all in between games so we just wanted to be smart about and not over-use some of the players.”
After beating La Salle, the Owls had a small break before facing Penn (2-4). They lost a close first set, 25-23, but won the next two sets by scores of 25-13 and 25-19. The Quakers then evened the match with a 25-21 fourth-set win, and the final set Penn took the early 12-5 lead but Temple came back to tie the game at 13 and took it to extra points before Penn pulled out a 16-14 win.
“I think the key word is inconsistency,” Ganes said. “I thought there were some sets that we played really well against Penn, and there were some sets that were not strong at all because we were making too many unforced errors. For example, the first set we made so many unforced errors but we only lost the set by 2 points. It wasn’t so much what Penn did, but what we didn’t do in that first set. We played really well in the 2nd set, but could not maintain the same intensity throughout the game.”
Three Temple players recorded double-doubles in the Penn match. Matautia and Davis recorded 15 kills apiece, with 12 and 11 digs, respectively. Sandra Sydlik added a team high 23 digs with an incredible amount of assists, 44. Grattan was once again close to a double-double, leading Temple with 16 kills with nine digs.
“I think the tournament went well for us,” Matautia said. “Of course we wanted to win the tournament but that didn’t happen. It showed us what we really need to work on, we definitely exposed our weaknesses this weekend and it is crucial that we get better for conference play and of course this upcoming weekend when we host our own tournament.”
Temple will play at home for the first time this season next weekend when they host their annual Temple Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21. The other teams will be Hofstra, Delaware State and Brown.
Rich Fogel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RBFogel26.