The Owls picked up their sixth straight win with a four set victory (25-14, 25-11, 23-25, 25-19) in their first game of the Penn Invitational Saturday against Weber State (4-7).
Senior Gabriella Matautia led the Owls with 12 kills and nine digs narrowly missing out on a double-double. Sophomore Sandra Sydlik led the way with 30 assists and also added seven digs of her own. Junior Alex Schmitt and freshman Caroline Grattan both had good games as well. Schmitt had eight kills and Grattan pitched in with seven and also had five digs.
Temple cruised through the first two sets and it looked like the Owls were going to run Weber State right out of the Palestra. The Wildcats trailed 18-11 in the third set, and they found their stride just in time to make a third set rally. They ended up winning the set on a 14-5 run and got a little momentum back on their side.
“We stopped playing, that’s pretty much what happened,” Temple coach Bakeer Ganes said. “I thought we did a really good job in the first two sets. We were up 18-11 in the third set, and we just let our guard down and were not bringing the same intensity, we cannot let that happen.”
Ganes has had a challenge this season with eight new players and figuring out who fits best in what spot and who plays well with each other.
“We really have five new players on the court that get significant playing time,” Ganes added. “Things like this will happen when you do not have the right chemistry going. They did a good job closing out the first and second set, but we just didn’t do it in the third so that is something we have to work on.”
Ganes believes he does have a set rotation at this point in the season, and likes having the flexibility of having a lot of depth to get the right matchups out there.
“We have a large team,” Ganes said. “We have a lot of players that can help us with different abilities, and my job is to put the best lineup out there. I feel like I have a set rotation but it changes with players injuries but I do have a good core in mind.”
Temple’s serving has been the key to this six game winning streak. Today, they recorded ten aces and even when it wasn’t an ace it was almost always in a good spot that made it hard for Weber State to get a clean return.
“In a match like this, you want to finish in three sets, but at the end of the day we are 6-1 with a six game winning streak which we are really proud of,” Ganes said.
Temple has a short rest and is back on the court tomorrow against LaSalle at 10 a.m. and Penn at 2 p.m.
“I think this is a tough tournament overall,” Ganes said. “Whenever you play a rival, it doesn’t matter what the records are, it is always a special game. From just playing [LaSalle and Penn] in the past, they always come out and play better than they usually do because it is an inner-city rivalry and I think the players get a little more up for these games. I think tomorrow is going to be a fun day, it is great competition and I am really looking forward to it.”
Rich Fogel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RBFogel26.