Volleyball beats Penn in Day 1 of Big 5 tournament

For the first time since Nov. 8, 2005, women’s volleyball has beaten the University of Pennsylvania.

However, the win didn’t come easy, as Temple dropped the first set, 20-25. Temple posted its comeback by sweeping the following three sets to win, 3-1, after being down, 7-3, to begin the second set.

“We didn’t think [after the first set], ‘oh, this is horrible,’ because we knew this game was going to be tough,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “We didn’t panic. We just said, ‘what do we need to do to get better?’”

The changes would be made on primarily the defensive side.

Temple was led on defense by its seniors. Senior libero Chelsea Tupuola led in digs with 23, followed closely by senior outside hitter Jingyu Zhang with 19.

“By the second set, we began to really play our game,” Zhang said. “I think the coaches did a very good job because of how they set up the game plan.”

For Zhang, this victory was simply one more game in the win column.

Yet, Temple beat a veteran University of Pennsylvania team which included six seniors. Temple only  has three seniors.

“We know we are the underdog to almost anyone we are going to play this year,” Ganes said. “That means we will have to take advantage of every little chance we get.”

Ganes noted the attacking of sophomore outside hitter Jennifer Ianconbini. Ianconbini had a very efficient game, landing five kills in 13 attempts with no errors.

“I feel like I was available for [sophomore setter Tiffany Connatser],” Ianconbini said. “I think being available and always hitting balls, though they may not be kills, really opens up our offense because there’s not always a double block on [junior outside hitter Elyse Burkert] or [junior rightside hitter Gabriella Matautia].”

The comeback was closely contested. Temple’s largest margin of victory came in the clinching set where it only won by a margin of four points. The other two sets were both won 25-23.

This victory could serve as forward momentum as the group continues through a Big 5 tournament against Villanova and La Salle on Saturday. Though for Ganes, this was not the case.

“This is nice,” Ganes said. “To be honest, though, this is just another win for me.”

Ganes hopes to improve in three areas by the season’s end, serving consistently, defense, and becoming more unpredictable offensively.

“I thought the serving was the best part,” said Ganes. “They competed against a team that was bigger and more physical, and [our serving] knocked them out of their rhythm.”

“We have to move on because we have another big match tomorrow,” Ganes said. “Villanova and the Big East is tough, a deep conference. La Salle improved much over last year, too.”

The next game for Temple (3-2) will be against Villanova (3-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Palestra.

Liam McKenna can be reached at liam.mckenna@temple.edu.

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