The volleyball team took a four-game winning streak to the court against Duquesne on Saturday in the Owls’ second Atlantic Ten Conference match of the season.
Fueled by strong play from senior captain Zhen Jia Liu and junior setter Maira Mogollon, the Owls made short work of the Dukes, winning 3-0 (30-20, 30-21, 30-13).
The Owls’ fifth straight victory is the program’s longest winning streak since a 15-match streak in 2003.
Three Owls totaled double-digit kills and Mogollon added a match-high 35 assists.
“Duquesne is feeling good,” coach Bob Bertucci said he told the Owls the night before the game. “They’re scrappy, so we need to be ready.”
The team heeded Bertucci’s warnings and came out strong, finishing with a .519 hitting percentage in the first of the three games.
The Owls kept up the over-.300 hitting percentage in the second and third matches, improving to 30-2 all-time versus Duquesne.
Some of that early intensity can be credited to the Owls’ 3-0 home shutout of Saint Louis on Friday.
True freshman Patricia Vernon totaled 10 kills to lead the team. Jia Liu had nine kills, sophomore Yue Liu had eight and sophomore Christina DeMarco had seven.
Bertucci praised his team’s strong-side attack, with generating intensity and heightening the players’ confidence in each other.
“We have to know that the players coming off the bench are going to be able to get in there and make some big plays,” Bertucci said. “We have to have confidence in our team.”
Renewed team spirit has been a trend so far in the Owls season, sophomore Colleen Egan said.
“We’re playing really well as a team,” Egan said after the shutout of the Billikens. “It showed [Friday], and we have to keep it up.”
Bertucci also commended his team on standing up to Saint Louis’ big hitters, and still coming up with big blocks.
Temple totaled nine blocks in the shutout, an improvement on an area Bertucci felt was weak last season.
This weekend’s victories put the Owls’ winning percentage over .500 on the season.
“That’s the kind of play that’s going to bring people back to watch,” Bertucci said. “Now we have to keep it up.”
Friday, Bertucci cautioned his team to work on “Hiding Maira,” referring to Mogollon. The Owls succeeded against Duquesne, allowing her to get into more plays.
Temple carries the energy generated by these back-to-back shutouts into their last homestand before a four-game road trip. The Owls face city rival La Salle on Tuesday at McGonigle Hall.
In the teams’ two meetings last season, the Owls shut the Explorers out, 3-0, in both matches.
The Owls hope home court advantage will help them to beat a La Salle team returning junior outside hitter Kristen Kelsey.
Danielle K. Milner can be reached at email@example.com