Temple women’s volleyball got off to a good start in conference play with a nine-match winning-streak.
The Owls relied on strong outside hitting and solid defense to steam roll through conference opponents Rhode Island, Massachusetts and La Salle.
The winning streak came to a halt with a somewhat surprising loss to Duquense. The Dukes were supposed to be an easy win on paper but surprised the Owls with outstanding play by senior Brooke Saunders who had a .429 hitting percentage against the Owls and was named the Atlantic-10 Player of the Week.
A pair of Owl sophomores also stepped up their play during the winning streak. Outside hitters Yamit Haba and Yun Xu have lead the team in kills with Haba recording 17 against La Salle and Xu netting the highest hitting percentage of the contest with .385.
The loss at home to Duquense was the first time in Coach Bob Bertucci’s seven-year tenure that they defeated the Owls. Following the upset the team gathered their composure and tried to set focus on George Washington.
“Sometimes you can put too much pressure on a team to perform to perfection from both the coaches, players themselves and their teammates,” Bertucci said. “These guys really want to win. The only way they can win is if they release themselves into the competition and play.”
It took until the third game against George Washington for the Owls to loosen up for they couldn’t shake serving errors.
Several Owls led by example, displaying pure hustle and aggressiveness that rubbed off on the rest of team. The passing game kept the Owls a step ahead of GW and junior setter Solana Lee controlled the offensive attack with 43 assists and 11 digs following a gutsy performance against Duquense where she posted 69 assists.
The Owls will take to the road this weekend against Xavier and Dayton. The team will have to continue establishing a consistent blocking game, get some sparks from the underclassmen outside hitters and continue to receive leadership and big numbers from Lee.