Temple University volleyball (5-1, 1-1 The American Athletic Conference) won and lost to South Florida (3-3, 1-1 The American East Conference) in its first two conference games of the season Friday and Saturday.
The Owls fell in their first conference game on Friday with a 3-2 loss against the Bulls in which they sacrificed a 2-1 lead. In Saturday’s match, Temple pulled out their first conference win of the season 3-1 after winning three straight sets, including a convincing seven-point victory in the final set.
“The loss yesterday was devastating, especially because I thought we had a lot of opportunities to get away with a four-set win,” said head coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam. “It meant a lot for us, today’s match. I felt the intensity from the get-go and I thought everybody was dialed in.”
Friday’s first set resulted in a close 25-22 win for the Bulls, followed by Temple winning the second and third sets by scores of 25-21 and 25-6 respectively. The Owls would eventually lose its lead after the Bulls won the next two sets 26-24 and 17-15.
Senior outside hitter Katerina Papazoglou made her first appearance on the court this season, serving up 11 kills, 11 digs and a career-high five aces. Additionally, freshman defensive specialist Falanika Danielson led the team with 21 digs.
Saturday’s match was a tight one from start to finish, with neither team gaining a commanding lead.
The Owls fell short in the first set by a score of 25-20, but were able to tie it up in the second set with a 25-20 win. The third set was a challenging one for Temple, but they were able to pull through 28-26 after a lot of back and forth on match point. The Owls fought hard in the fourth and final set, winning 25-18.
“[South Florida] really scored a lot of points on us with their middles, and we made some adjustments on our blocking system and blocking speed in order to defend that a little bit better,” Ganesharatnam said.
The Owls’ adjustments in playing style between the games helped them gain their win over the Bulls with help from junior outside hitters Gem Grimshaw and Miray Bolukbasi and junior setter Tyler Lindgren.
“We also made some adjustments on defense, especially on our right side defense, so we shifted to a different system,” Ganesharatnam said. “I thought that really helped us.”
Grimshaw finished with 18 kills, 11 digs, four blocks and two aces. Bolukbasi had 16 digs and seven kills in addition to Lindgren’s 42 assists and seven digs.
Temple will next play two games against the University of Central Florida (6-0, 0-0 The American) on Feb. 19 and 20 at 5 p.m. at McGonigle Hall.