The women’s volleyball team will embark on a mission Friday.
A mission that will take them high and low throughout the northeastern United States in search of victory with hopes of a run into the postseason and a possible, but long shot, fourth conference championship in the past five seasons.
Why a long shot you ask?
Well, of the 12 games remaining, only four are non-conference and of those other eight opponents the Owls (13-5, 5-3 Atlantic 10) have lost to three of them: Duquesne, Dayton and Xavier.
On the other hand, of Dayton’s remaining opponents their sole defeat came at the hands of the University of Rhode Island, while the only loss URI has is against Temple.
The Owls are in third place in the A-10 behind Xavier, URI and Dayton who are both tied for first place at the half-way mark of conference play.
Temple is also trying to hold on to the fourth and final place in the Northeast Region Rankings; the top four schools make the NCAA tournament.
“It’s the difference of whether we have a shot of winning the conference regular season or not,” Coach Bob Bertucci said. “I think we’re in a must win situation if our goal is to win the regular season and the tournament. It’s up to the players, whatever their goal is, that’s how they’ll perform.”
The talent is there but now it’s time for the players to make up their mind as far as what they want to accomplish for the rest of the season.
Expectations are getting higher as the season winds down. Being in the postseason has been a constant for some of the older players.
“I’m not really worried about it,” middle blocker Charity Hill said. “Our team has a really good relationship with each other and we can do it if we want to.”
Hill has been the spark that the team has needed as of late.
She has steadily improved throughout the season and has been effective on the defensive and offensive sides of the ball with her excellent leaping and blocking abilities and her forceful spikes.
Hill’s attitude and work ethic can be seen in practices and even during pre-game warm-ups. She always shows intensity and her positive attitude may help the team down the stretch.
“She’s playing real aggressively,” Bertucci said. “She’s asserting herself out there and really making her presence known.”
Another important piece to the team’s late-season formula will be junior outside hitter Sara Stone, who has been making her way back into the rotation.
Against Fordham Stone netted several service aces and was very alert and communicative with her teammates during her time on the court.
“I think she’s been a great defensive player and as long as she keeps working hard I think she’ll be able to contribute to the team and that’s what I think she wants to do,” Bertucci said.
There are still 12 games left on the schedule before the A-10 tournament. The team has been reminded as to where they should keep their focus.
“We’re not thinking about just making the tournament,” Bertucci said. “We want to still win these last games, which will be very difficult.”
If the team is to be dependent on one another, as they have been all season, then everyone must be on the same page. At this point in the season there is no room for mistakes.