Two losses in straight sets on Friday. Two wins in straight sets on Saturday. The volleyball team quickly put the losses behind them, cleaned up its errors and secured two wins on Saturday at the South Carolina Invitational to come back to Philly with a 2-2 record.
The Owls defeated UNC-Asheville in straight sets, 25-16, 25-21, 25-20, in the matinee match, then beat Akron 25-23, 31-29, 25-21 Saturday evening.
“We really learned from our mistakes, looked at tape, analyzed it and focused on the things we needed to improve,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “I thought we played great against Asheville and really great against Akron.”
Temple had its most efficient match of the early season in the first set of the morning match. They dominated with 15 kills and only four errors, which was a big problem on the first day. The Owls used a 5-0 run to extend the lead to 21-13 and never looked back. Temple led throughout the second set thanks to 17 kills compared to UNC-Asheville’s 11. The third set was never in doubt as Temple led throughout once again.
Junior Elyse Burkert led the way for the Owls with 17 kills, while sophomore Tiffany Connatser added 35 assists and junior Gabriella Matuatia held things down on defense with 15 digs.
“We minimized our errors in the first match,” Ganes said. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t have unforced errors and we wanted to take them out of their system.”
Akron proved to be a tougher opponent in the afternoon, keeping it closer in all three sets. There were 23 ties in the first two sets alone. The score was tied at 22 in the first set before Temple went on a 3-1 run capped with a set-winning kill by Burkert. The second set was tied on each point from 23 to 29 and Akron fought off seven total set points by Temple before Burkert hit another winner. The third set was close but Akron never threatened near the end and Temple clinched its second win of the young season.
Burkert matched her kill total from the first game, 17, and Matuatia tallied 20 kills. Connatser pitched in with 43 assists and senior Chelsea Tupuola had a match-high 18 digs.
“That win felt really good not just for beating Akron, but our demeanor was totally different,” Ganes said. “They looked confident and you could tell by their body language that they just weren’t going to lose this match.”
The team will return to Philly next weekend to take part in the Big 5 tournament at the Palestra starting Friday, Aug. 31
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at email@example.com.