Tulane junior middle hitter Dayna Kern was on a six game streak of scoring double-digit kills coming into the match against Temple. On Sunday, the Owls wanted to make sure she had trouble getting into the rhythm at McGonigle Hall.
In three sets, Kern finished with just five kills, hit 7.7 percent and ended the match with only 13 total attack attempts.
Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said Temple executed its plan of using serves to take Tulane’s offense out of rhythm.
“Even if the number of aces wasn’t very high, I think our serves really kept [Tulane] out of system,” Ganesharatnam. “They couldn’t run their offense the way they wanted to. Tulane can speed up or slow down the offense and it makes it tricky for our blockers, but our serves really helped with that.”
Temple (14-6, 10-2 American Athletic Conference) won its seventh straight match after sweeping Tulane on Sunday. Though the Owls only had two services aces in the win, the second ace gave them momentum to finish off the match.
Late in the third set, Tulane was able to force extra volleyball by scoring five straight points to take a 25-24 lead over Temple. A double-block from junior middle blocker Iva Deak and senior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz ended the 5-0 Tulane run, tied the set and gave Temple back the serve.
Rapacz followed the game plan and served an aggressive ball that Tulane sophomore libero Kaylie McHugh was unable to cleanly receive the serve and the ball flew out of bounds.
Temple then sealed the match with a kill from freshman outside hitter Katerina Papazoglou.
“We wanted to run a play but that play didn’t work out,” Rapacz said. “We were trying to be smarter with our shots instead of just hitting the ball and focusing on what we could do to score the next two points.”
Rapacz ended the match with 12 kills, 10 digs and five blocks. She said senior setter Kyra Coundourides helped spread out Tulane’s offense with her set passes.
Coundourides had a team-high 12 digs, 36 assists and three kills in the sweep.
Tulane’s second leading scorer, junior outside hitter Hannah Shaw, also struggled to find clean swings for kills. Shaw had five kills and five errors on 22 attack attempts to finish with a hitting percentage of zero on Sunday.
“Keeping them out of system on serves and even attacking their setter on defense was something that we did really well,” Coundourides said. “When your setter is out of it, you can’t run your middles, you can’t be productive from the middle and it makes our job as blockers and defenders a lot easier. In order to keep their top two scorers from scoring, it was our defense and block touches that helped us pick up balls and keep plays going.”
Tulane had 21 total attack errors and hit 11.8 in three sets. Temple’s defense finished with 53 digs and seven blocks.
With the win, Temple has won 10 of its last 11 matches since losing to Wichita State in the conference opener. The Owls go on the road next weekend after playing the past two weekends at home.
Temple plays at Memphis on Friday at 8 p.m. The Tigers are currently last in The American with a 1-11 record. The Owls then travel to Kansas to take on first place Wichita State on Sunday. The Shockers are the only team in The American with an undefeated conference record.
“We’re ready for Memphis,” Coundourides said. “We want to take them. It’d be really nice to sweep them too but we just have to make sure we work hard. And we want Wichita. We want Wichita real bad. A lot of preparation is going to be mental.”