In the first of two matches at Walsh Gymnasium at Seton Hall University Saturday, Temple defeated the University Notre Dame in a four tight sets for its fourth straight win this season.
“I think overall we played good,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “This is a very talented and young Notre Dame team. They have a lot of height and athleticism. This was a great win for us.”
In the first set, the Owls (4-1) were able to overcome an early deficit with the help of six kills from junior middle blocker Kirsten Overton and four kills from sophomore outside hitter Irem Asci to claim the set 25-22.
The second set had a different outcome for the Owls. Unforced errors allowed the Irish (1-4) to race to a 4-0 lead that they didn’t surrender for the rest of the set. The Owls closed the gap to 15-12, but Notre Dame went on a 10-6 run after a timeout to win 25-18.
“I think we focused more on what was going on our side,” junior outside hitter Tyler Davis said. “We were kind of rattled by what they were doing. We weren’t executing on our plays and it was our mistakes that gave them a good lead, and we just couldn’t fight back.”
After the second set, Ganesharatnam told his team if they minimized their unforced errors, they would be able to regain the lead. The Owls responded by jumping out to a 13-4 lead to overwhelm the Irish early in the third set.
“Notre Dame did a good job passing the ball in the second set and they did a good job blocking,” Ganesharatnam said. “You could especially see in the second set how much pressure they can put on a team.”
Two points later the Owls starting setter, Sandra Sydlik, rolled her ankle setting up for a play. The senior’s injury forced her to sit out for the rest of the set, but Temple rallied with the help of freshman setter Hannah Vandegrift, who tallied eight assists to close the set 25-15.
Sydlik returned to the match after the third set, which helped Temple close out the Irish with a 25-13 victory in the final set.
Davis, who finished with 16 kills for the match, said this match was their toughest since losing last week to nationally ranked the University of Oregon, but was impressed the way her team handled themselves after losing the second set and recovering from a late match against Hofstra last night.
“It was definitely a tougher one. They were definitely a better team,” Davis said. “I think we had a better game than we did yesterday. We focused more on us and played the game that we know how to play and that’s what helped us put it together.”
Temple finished the match with 61 kills, its most this season, nearly doubling Notre Dame’s total of 32.
Mark McCormick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org