After winning its first match at the Maryland Invitational in a sweep against Northeastern University on Friday, Temple felt confident in its abilities to execute against the University of Maryland Baltimore County on Saturday.
The Owls went into the matinee match with momentum and took the opening set by two points to claim their fourth consecutive set. But the early-season dominance may have made the team too relaxed.
The Owls lost 3-1 to the Retrievers before a five-set loss to the University of Maryland Saturday night.
“We felt a little too comfortable,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “That led to us possibly underestimating UMBC. We were lacking discipline with our blocking, we couldn’t quite adjust to the different tempo of the offense and our defense was the biggest reason we were put in a difficult position against UMBC.”
The next two sets were the most competitive of the entire tournament for Temple. Both the second and third sets went to extra points, and both times the Owls had a chance to close out.
Temple held two set points in the second set — once at 24-23 and again at 26-25 — but its defense could not halt UMBC’s attack. The Retrievers won the second set with three straight kills.
In the third set, Temple looked to take advantage of its 25-24 set point, but again, its defense did not execute. Temple allowed UMBC to score four of the last five points of the set, and suddenly, the Owls found themselves down 2-1 in the match.
“It goes back to being mentally focused throughout the entire match,” Ganesharatnam said. “I think we were very inconsistent. The mental focus wasn’t consistent enough, we had a lot of highs and a lot of lows and the lack of consistency was why we had a lot of unforced errors.”
Temple never recovered from its 2-1 deficit, as UMBC finished off the match by taking the fourth set 25-20.
One of points of emphasis going into the UMBC match was to limit unforced errors, but the Owls failed to hit accurately. Temple hit at just 17.4 percent and ended with 27 errors.
Temple came together after losing its first match of the day and analyzed what it needed to improve on to become more successful against Maryland later that evening, Ganesharatnam said.
After meeting, the Owls performed much more consistently against the Terrapins. The Owls had 18 errors and 18.5 blocks against the Terrapins compared to 27 errors and 11 blocks against UMBC. Temple fell to Maryland, 3-2, but Ganesharatnam said he thought the team played its best match “regarding execution and staying consistent.”
Temple’s middle blockers were the main contributors in its improvement on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, junior Iva Deak recorded 10 of Temple’s 18.5 blocks against Maryland. Deak’s double-digit blocking performance was a match and career high.
On offense, senior Janine Simmons ended the match hitting 54.5 percent. Simmons posted seven kills with just a single attack error on 11 attempts.
“We have a very talented team,” Ganesharatnam said. “This was the first weekend, and we tried very different lineups to see what works the best. Our biggest thing right now is consistency, but we were pleased at the potential we saw this weekend.”
Temple will continue to try to optimize its talent at the Albany Invitational, where they will play in three matches throughout Friday and Saturday.
Temple will take on an undefeated Colgate University team on Friday. Following the match against Colgate, the Owls will face off against St. John’s University and the University at Albany on Saturday.