Temple volleyball focuses on technique during shorter practices

Owls will focus on their weaknesses in preparation for the start of their season in January.

Sophomore outside hitters Miray Bolukbasi (right) and Gem Grimshaw (middle) play on the court during the Owls’ game against the University of Southern Florida at McGonigle Hall on Nov. 16, 2019. | ISAAC SCHEIN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University head volleyball coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam staff’s practice time with players is limited from 20 hours to eight hours a week due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. 

“It’s not a normal practice schedule because we are limited to eight hours a week,” Ganesharatnam said. “Four hours is volleyball-skill related, and four hours is strength and conditioning workouts.”

Ganesharatnam’s main focus is the consistency of the team and teaching the basics of technique, he added.    

The team’s practices are currently focused on “building consistent positive habits” and “a recommitment to fundamentals,” said junior setter and team captain Tyler Lindgren. 

“Once we got back, we wanted to make sure nobody got hurt and remembered how to play volleyball,” she added. “We work on reestablishing our game, tempo and technique.” 

While the team is practicing consistently, there’s less time to build rapport and camaraderie because of the emphasis on social distancing policies off the court, said sophomore captain middle-blocker Kayla Spells.

“We really have been trying to do smaller group stuff, a few of us will go and do our online classes together, you know, just go sit outside at one of the tables, just small things that will help you get to know each other outside of volleyball,” Spells said. 

The team’s season can start as early as Jan. 22 and will end no later than April 10, The Temple News reported. 

This extra time gives the Owls an opportunity for new freshmen recruits to become more comfortable with the team and develop their game, Ganesharatnam said. 

“I do think an advantage is that freshmen have the opportunity to train with us for a full semester before we have to compete,” he added. “They also have the opportunity to get to know their teammates better and to know the system in general better in order to integrate themselves into the team.” 

Last season, the team was younger and lacked consistency, but have grown this year. After a 9-0 start to last season, the team struggled in conference play, finishing 12-15 overall and 3-13 in The American Conference. 

As a freshman, Spells played in 88 sets, contributing 27 digs and 72 total blocks while Nikki Saito played in 57 sets.

Peyton Boyd, Gem Grimshaw and Lindgren played in 74, 82 and 70 sets, and are poised to lead the Owls as upperclassmen this season. 

Boyd was named second-team All-Conference with 109 digs and 218 points. Lindgren contributed 149 digs and 83 attacks.

Temple lost one senior from last season’s team, Dana Westfield. Westfield was a former preseason All-Conference selection and second-team All-Conference selection, and she had 102 kills, 111.5 points, 18 digs and 17 blocks in her senior season. 

Ganesharatnam and his staff emphasize skill-driven work in groups to sharpen individuals at the beginning of the week and more scrimmage-like workouts toward the end of the week, he said.

The players are focused on finding their weaknesses and improving on them by the time the season starts in January, Lindgren said.

“We should be at the top of our game because we know where we fall short,” Lindgren added.

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