Temple volleyball loses conference matches in Florida

The Owls have lost four consecutive matches after starting the season 9-0.

Then-freshman setter Tyler Lindgren (right) sets the ball for then-sophomore middle hitter Baleigh Jean-Philippe in Temple's 3-0 loss to the University of Maryland on Sept. 14, 2018 at McGonigle Hall | MICHAEL NGUYEN / FILE

Temple women’s volleyball (9-4, 0-2 The American Athletic Conference) lost both of its road games in Florida in straight sets this weekend.

On Friday, the Owls were swept by South Florida (7-9, 1-1 The American) in Tampa in their conference opener. 

The first set was locked at 22-22 before the Bulls took three straight points due to Temple errors to win, 25-22. 

 “I just don’t think we were able to control the ball very well,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “We started pretty well on offense, but we couldn’t keep it up. The first set was close, within one point late, but then South Florida just made one more push, and I think we fell apart too easily.”

In the next set, USF led 12-11 before rattling off 3-0 and 4-0 runs sandwiched in between a lone Temple point. The Bulls went up 19-12 and eventually took the second set 25-19. The third set opened up with a 5-0 Bulls run, and they never looked back, winning 25-18.

“We just have to do a better job dealing with pressure situations,” Ganesharatnam said. “Be mentally a little stronger, being a little more consistent in our play.”

Sophomore setter Tyler Lindgren hit a career milestone in the contest, recording her 1000th career assist. She led Temple with 27 assists on Friday.

The Owls were paced on offense by sophomore right-side hitter Peyton Boyd. She led the match with 12 kills and earned a .400 percentage. She was the only Owl to record more than five kills in the match.

Bulls senior outside hitter Jac’cara Walker recorded 11 kills with a .241 percentage. She also added 8 digs.

“You have to kind of fight those things out and make the team understand we have to focus on the process, the progression rather than solely focusing on the outcome,” Ganesharatnam said. “I feel strongly, I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that we have the right pieces together, but we have to form a team that can compete on a consistent basis at a high level.”

On Sunday, the Owls fell 3-0 to Central Florida (9-5, 2-0 The American) on Sunday afternoon in Orlando. This was their fourth straight loss in the wake of a program-best, nine-game winning streak to start the season.

The Owls put up a tough fight in the second and third sets, but the reigning conference champions were just too much for an Owls team that is still inexperienced.

UCF took the first set handily, 25-14, and smothered any attack the Owls put together throughout the match. The Knights almost doubled the Owls in kills and hit percentage for the day. 

Temple rebounded early in the second game, jumping out to a quick 5-0 start. Sophomore outside hitter Gem Grimshaw kept the Owls in the game, finishing with eight kills and a hit percentage of .073. UCF rebounded and took the second set 25-22.

Temple showed resilience late in the third set. The Owls came back from being down four and eventually led 17-13, but the Knights recovered and took the third set 25-22. 

“Overall, obviously we’re disappointed we didn’t get the win,” Ganesharatnam said. “I feel much better because of the progress we’ve made.” 

Ganesharatnam was proud of his young team for the fight they put against the Knights and the fact they were still able to execute. 

“We really made some adjustments after the first set that helped us in the second and third sets,” Ganesharatnam. “I thought our serve-receive was really consistent, it was 10 times better than it was on Friday. Overall, the environment on the court was much better.” 

Despite the Owls’ struggles, they are young and still improving. All that matters is the growth of the team going forward, Ganesharatnam said. 

“Overall, I’m really pleased with the progress we’re making. This season, we were never really focused 100% on wins and losses, but on the progress of the team. And at this moment, I really believe we’re on the right track, and if we continue this way, we will get those conference wins.”

The Owls will look to rebound in their next game when they take on Connecticut on Friday at McGonigle Hall.

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