Temple swept in final match of season

Temple Volleyball lost in straight sets to the AAC Champion Southern Methodist to close the season with their highest win total in six years.

Temple ended its season on a three-game losing streak, but the Owls finished 2023 with its highest total wins since 2017. | LILLIAN PRIETO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Volleyball (17-14, 7-12 American Athletic Conference) lost to AAC Champion Southern Methodist (25-6, 18-1 AAC) 3-0 Wednesday afternoon at McGonigle Hall. The Owls finished the season on a three-game losing streak after being swept last weekend on the road against Memphis.

However, Temple ended its second season under head coach Linda Hampton-Keith with its highest total wins since 2017 when they finished the year with a 20-10 record. Temple finished fourth in the AAC East standings, just five games behind South Florida.

The Owls played a strong first set against the Mustangs, but that seemed to be all they had in the tank. Temple struggled in its next two sets, causing them to lose in a three-set sweep. 

Temple started the match with its foot on the gas, taking an early 7-2 lead in the first set with three aces in that span. SMU found the floor with a flurry of kills that brought them right back into the match at a 13-all tie. 

Hampton-Keith called a timeout to stall the Mustangs’ momentum, but it would not help, as SMU went on a 5-1 run to take the lead. Temple fought back, taking a 26-25 lead, but SMU closed out the set with three straight points, including two Temple errors that gave SMU the 28-26 victory. 

That turned out to be Temple’s best chance to take a set off the conference champions. SMU played more consistently than Temple, finishing with fewer attack and service errors while converting about 0.15 percent more attacks.

SMU jumped out to a 12-4 start in the second set thanks to a string of Temple errors that pushed the momentum toward SMU. With the Mustangs at match point up 24-13, SMU middle blocker Alex Grover earned the final point with a block on Temple outside hitter Olivia Vance to take a 2-0 lead in the match. 

The third set was much of the same, as the Mustangs closed out their last game before the NCAA tournament. SMU held a 16-10 lead midway through the set, and they extended it to a 21-10 lead with the Owls looking depleted at the end of the match. 

Temple only scored 14 points in the third set, and Grover ended the set with a kill to win 25-14, sweeping the match and ending the Owls’ season. 

Temple could not find momentum in the second and third sets. The team was active but could not hit their spots properly in the match. The Owls had 107 attack attempts at the net but only converted 29 into kills. They also finished with a .056 hitting percentage compared to SMU’s .216 percent. 

The Owls substantially improved upon their record from last season and showed promise during the year. However, they are losing several key players in Vance and right side hitter Avery Luoma.

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