After jumping ahead two games to none against Delaware, the women’s volleyball team squandered its lead and lost, 3-2 to the Blue Hens Tuesday at McGonigle Hall.
Despite the return and presence of its Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, senior Xu Yun, the Owls could not maintain the momentum they obtained early in the match.
The Owls came out playing on all cylinders, easily winning the first two games, 30-21 and 30-18. In game three, the Owls came out attacking once again.
However, the Blue Hens made adjustments, talking more to each other and delivering tougher serves.
The Blue Hens also concentrated on neutralizing Yun on the left side.
Despite Yun’s hard-hitting and aggressive play, the Blue Hens still found a way to dig her balls.
The Owls dropped the next two games to even the match.
And in a pressure filled game five, the Blue Hens outlasted the Owls, 15-12.
Temple coach Bob Bertucci believes his players came out unfocused and lackadaisical going into the third game.
Frustration began to settle in, making it more difficult for the Owls to execute.
“The team is not mentally prepared to handle adversity,” Bertucci said. “We should have won.”
Temple’s inability to handle adversity led to five serving errors, costing them points and momentum.
“We were undisciplined on defense, so they were getting to score side outs. And every time they scored a side out, they got a point,” Bertucci said.
The Blue Hens played themselves back into the game, putting pressure on the Owls down the stretch.
Temple did not respond well.
“Delaware played gutsy volleyball and laid it all out on the line,” Bertucci said.
Junior Allison Runk took the game as a personal disappointment, simply because the Owls won the first two games easily.
Runk knows the potential of the team and feels they cannot always rely on skill alone.
“We must fight back against adversity,” Runk said.
The disappointment was also felt by co-captain Yamit Haba.
“In game three, they came out fired up, but we ignored it,” Haba said.
The Owls thought they had the Blue Hens cornered, but when the momentum of the game swung, they couldn’t recover.
“We need to work on our communication skills between the front row and back row or else it’s just a bunch of girls trying to use their personal skills to get them through,” Haba said.
According to Bertucci, his team is not hungry and lacks a killer instinct.
“Girls have to get the competitive nature back that they played with last year,” Bertucci said.
The Owls know they can’t live off last year’s success.
In practice, the team feels it can focus on the more important things now that most of their injuries have healed.
Bertucci feels the team must make up its mind on training hard and continuing to get back into shape.
No injuries mean no more excuses, and the Owls must come out ready to play.
They’ll have to do it in a hurry.
Temple will host St. Peters on Friday and Georgetown Saturday in a tournament at McGonigle Hall.
Donnell Jackson can be reached at email@example.com.