Volleyball had biggest crowd of season against Villanova

Temple played in front of 378 people, along with the band, in their 3-1 loss to Villanova.

Junior Dana Westfield spikes the ball during the Owls' 3-1 win against Rhode Island on Aug. 24 at McGonigle Hall. | LUKE SMITH / FILE PHOTO

As she waited for the ball to be served to her, team captain Mia Heirakuji soaked up the sound of the raucous home crowd.

The stomping of the crowd’s feet on the hard, plastic chairs, the chanting of the Diamond Marching Band and the students taunting the opposing server filled the senior defensive specialist with energy.

“We want the band to come all the time,” Heirakuji said. “The band helps fire me up and the team immediately responds when the crowd and the band get into the game.”

Environments like these were not uncommon during Temple’s 3-1 loss Villanova on Sunday in the final game of the Villanova Classic. In their first home game since classes began, the Owls were treated to their largest home crowd of the season so far, totaling 378 people.

The Diamond Marching Band appeared in its first home game of the volleyball season. Both the home crowd and the introduction of the band created a level of energy and intensity not seen before in the team’s young season.

When the band played Temple’s fight song, “T for Temple U,” during a timeout in the first set, several Temple players including outside hitters junior Dana Westfield and graduate student Irem Asci spelled out the letters “T” and “U” in accordance with the song.

The band and the crowd appeared to feed off of each other’s energy throughout the game.

Early in the second set with Villanova leading 1-0, Wildcats senior setter Ashley Knight prepared to serve to the Temple side of the court, the band started chanting in unison. Immediately after, the crowd followed suit, imitating the band’s chant, filling McGonigle Hall with noise. The following serve from Knight hit the net and the referees awarded a point to Temple due to the service error.

The increased noise level doesn’t just motivate the players; coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said he relishes the extra noise from students.

“We love it when students come out to support us, and we love it when they bang their feet against the chairs because it drives opposing coaches nuts when they do it,” Ganesharatnam said. “When our students show up, it’s a tremendous home-court advantage…the team feeds off the crowd’s energy.”

Temple’s next game is Friday against the University of Maryland at McGonigle Hall. It will be the Owls’ first match in the Cherry and White Challenge. The next game the band will attend is the Owls’ American Athletic Conference home opener against Connecticut on Sept. 28.

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