Back-to-back losses on the first day wasn’t exactly the start of the season that coach Bakeer Ganes envisioned for the Owls’ volleyball team.
Temple was swept in straight sets in both of their matches Friday. South Carolina defeated Temple 25-14, 25-15, 25-18 before East Tennessee State handed them 25-14, 25-23 and 25-21 losses.
“We were just out-muscled a little bit against [South Carolina],” Ganes said. “They’re a terrific, physical team and we also struggled with errors. That was the theme of the day and it’s disappointing because it’s something we control.”
In the matinee match against the Gamecocks, the Owls were down 5-2 early in the first set and never gained enough momentum to flirt with a comeback. South Carolina hit 15 team kills and committed only three errors. The second set was a different story as Temple led 9-6 early and were tied at 14 before things started rolling South Carolina’s way. The Gamecocks went on an 11-1 run the rest of the way to clinch the second set. The Owls managed 11 team kills in the third set but couldn’t come all the way back after the Gamecocks went up 19-12.
Junior Gabriella Matautia led the attack for Temple with 10 kills, while sophomore Tiffany Connatser added 23 assists in the losing effort. Senior Chelsea Tupuola led the team with 12 digs.
With a chance for redemption and their first win of the season in the afternoon, Temple still struggled, mainly with errors, in an uninspired 25-14 first set. In the second set the team was down 22-16 before surprising ETSU with a 6-1 run to pull within one. After an error and one set point save by Temple, ETSU eventually put it away 25-23. There were nine total ties in the third set and the Owls proved tough down the stretch killing off two match points but ETSU’s 17 team kills were too much to overcome.
Connatser added 22 more assists against ETSU and led the team with 10 digs. Junior Elyse Burkert paced the team with 11 kills on 35 attempts.
“[Burkert] did good on the outside and all-around because some of our players had to play out of position since our starting middle was out,” Ganes said.
There will be two more chances tomorrow for the Owls to notch their first win of the young season. They have a 10 a.m. match with UNC Asheville and then a 5 p.m. match against Akron to conclude the weekend.
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.