Temple volleyball (11-15, 2-13 The American Athletic Conference) dropped its fifth straight match in the second to last match of the season against Central Florida on Thursday night.
The Owls hung around against the Knights but were unable to steal a set. The Knights took a 19-13 lead in the first set before a 7-2 Owls run cut the lead to one. Central Florida responded by taking four of the last five points and winning the set 25-21.
The second set was the Owls’ worst. They hit just .027 percent and committed 10 errors in a 25-18 loss. A 4-1 start in the final set gave Temple its first lead of the night, but the Knights rallied back to win 25-21.
“I think where we are with our young core, we want to compete against top teams, against teams that are really challenging us, really pushing us and forcing us to get better,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “It’s a treat for us at this point to play against a team like that and see how we can do. As much as we wanted to win at least one set, possibly push it to five, I do think it was a good performance overall from a really young team.”
Sophomore outside hitter Miray Bolukbasi shined for the Owls, putting up a match and career-high 22 kills on 42 attempts. She also added seven digs.
“We are close to the end of the season, it’s kind of hard to keep up the motivation being far from home, hard semester, everything is hard,” Bolukbasi said. “During the weekend, I worked hard for it because they’re in a good place in the conference so beating them or pushing them was really important for us. I didn’t know that I was gonna do 22 kills, but I tried my best.”
Sophomore right-side hitter Peyton Boyd and sophomore outside hitter Gem Grimshaw each contributed seven kills. Grimshaw totaled seven digs, while Boyd made five. Sophomore outside hitter McKenna Melville led the Knights with 18 kills on 37 attempts.
Seeing that they were able to be competitive against one of the conference’s top teams was a confidence booster to a group Ganesharatnam called “one of the most talented groups we’ve had.”
“It’s kind of motivating for next year, the fact that we were pretty close most of the sets,” Grimshaw said. “It just shows us that next year we definitely have the capability of beating them. We’re not that far behind. We’re taking away from this that we did something right.”
The Owls will compete in their last match of the season against South Florida on Saturday afternoon, a team that handed Temple its first conference loss in three sets.