Temple’s Luoma a key part in Volleyball’s resurgence

Outside hitter Avery Luoma transferred to Temple last summer and was a key piece for a team that had its best season in seven years.

Right-side hitter Avery Luoma transferred to Temple from Princeton last off-season. This season, Luoma was a key piece for an Owls team that finished with their best record since 2017 | LILLIAN PRIETO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Following her senior year at Princeton, right-side hitter Avery Luoma had one final year of college eligibility remaining. Temple assistant coach Jose Lugo just so happened to know one of her old coaches and reached out to Luoma hoping to convince her to come to Philadelphia. 

After meeting the players on the team on a visit, Luoma, a Phoenix native, thought Temple was the place for her. She was officially sold after learning about the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, which she believed gave her the best chance to pursue her goal of becoming a doctor.

“I could see myself living and playing and being friends with these people,” Luoma said. “The coaching staff was great. It became really clear that this was a good fit for me.”

By transferring to Temple, Luoma knew she was joining a team that was rebuilding under head coach Linda Hampton-Keith, after only winning 10 games the year prior, but things changed in 2023. 

Luoma’s contribution was instrumental in helping the team find their stride during the 2023 season, as the Owls gained newfound success and confidence. She also played a key role for an Owls team that finished with their best record since 2017. In her lone season in the Cherry and White, Luoma had seven double-doubles in kills and digs.

Luoma played alongside outside hitter Taylor Davenport and middle blocker Olivia Vance, who both have larger personalities. Instead of being vocal, Luoma let her play do the talking. She racked up impressive stats both offensively and defensively, as she led the team in digs with 255, finished second on the team in kills with 260, third on the team in aces with 25 and fourth in blocks with 67. 

“We call her the ‘Silent Assassin,’ she’s a quiet storm,” Davenport said. “She’s not really the loudest and she’s not gonna be talking a lot, but she usually lets her work speak for her.”

Luoma was one of the only six rotation players and provided consistency throughout the season. Hampton-Keith, who often changes her lineup, constantly kept Luoma on the court. 

Having a full rotation player on the team is beneficial, as it creates more options for the offense. Luoma hit .185 kills per attack throughout the season. Adding a strong hitter with experience to the roster made the Owls a bigger and more challenging threat to their opponents. 

“In a world where we are making lots of changes, they are the constant and the stability and the anchors that we can kind of tie ourselves to,” Hampton-Keith said. “What it comes down to is can they pass, can they be in every serve receive, are they able to do that skill and do that skill well over the whole course of the match, and the answer is yes, they can and they do.” 

Luoma was also an important part of Princeton Volleyball prior to Temple, starting in every match her last two seasons. She carried that same success with her to Philadelphia, as she was named AAC Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 23 and Temple’s Athlete of the Week on Oct. 24. 

“I’ve always been kind of that player that maybe isn’t the one that everyone looks out for the most kills or the coolest blocks but then kind of just do everything else and then show up when they need me to,” Luoma said. “I like being the player that can be relied on for anything.”

Luoma has excelled throughout her entire volleyball career. While competing at the high school level in Arizona, she was named First-team All-Section in 2017 and 2018, team MVP in 2018 and Master Athlete in 2019. 

The honors kept coming when Luoma got to Princeton, she was named First Team All-Ivy League in 2021, and was a multiple time Ivy League Player of the Week, CSC Academic All-District and Second Team All-ECAC in 2022.

Luoma’s versatility on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court is what caught Hampton-Keith’s eye, she said.

“We started the recruiting process, and I thought she had a lot of value to add,” Hampton-Keith said. “She has such a wealth of experience and knowledge about the game that she’s able to just kind of carry the load there. [She was] one of the best players in the Ivy League.”

Besides just impressing on the court, Luoma has served as a mentor for underclassmen on the team as well.

The Owls are a relatively young team, just less than half of the roster is formed by first and second-year players. Luoma is one of three graduate students and has infused her knowledge of the game to less experienced players.

“Our six freshmen can look up to her so much because she everyday embodies the example of what it means to be mature, be on top of everything in your life in a way that allows you to be successful,” Hampton-Keith said. “She’s such a great role model for that.”

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