Lenny Kravitz’s cover of American Woman echoed loudly throughout the Smith Center during the pre-game warm-ups at George Washington University.
The legendary song was a symbolic prelude of things to come as Temple University opened Atlantic 10 play with a persevering three games-to-two victory over a much-improved Colonials squad.
The game scores were 10-15, 15-9, 14-16, 15-8 and 15-3.
All-American candidate Alma Kovaci had the Colonials (8-3) screaming “stay away from me” as she recorded 35 kills and six service aces.
Despite the constant double- and triple-teaming, Kovaci seemed to make the plays when the Owls (5-6) needed them most. She came up big in the all-important fifth game, notching six of the team’s 11 kills.
“She’s a great player,” Colonial coach Jojit Coronel said. “She steps it up. When it comes down to the end, Alma is going to get the ball.”
The GW match marked the first of two conference road contest last week. Temple also traveled to Pittsburgh to sweep Duquesne three-games-to-none to improve to 2-0 in the conference.
Temple head coach Bob Bertucci took a big gamble this season scheduling non-conference games against several Top 20 opponents. Bertucci felt, despite taking a few losses, that the games would make them tougher, and teach them how to play better through adversity.
He was right.
After losing a nail-biting 14-16 game that put the Owls down two-games-to-one on the Colonial’s home floor, Temple took its play to the next level and rallied to win the next two games convincingly, 15-8 and 15-3.
The scoring system is adjusted in the fifth set that involves rally scoring, eliminating side-outs so that both teams score points after every serve.
Temple jumped on George Washington early by going up 6-0, and then 11-1. The Colonials later picked up a couple of meaningless points near the end before Temple ended the game at 15-3.
“This was the best blocking team in the Atlantic 10, but it was nothing compared to what we played against (in the non-conference season),” Bertucci explained. “Yamit [Habba] (23 kills) was having difficulty hitting against USC and BYU and Long Beach State. I think it helped.”
Showing the ultimate sign of respect and sportsmanship for a gritty performance, the George Washington faithful gave the Owls a standing ovation outside the Smith Center as the players boarded the charter bus and left the GW campus.
It was an act rarely seen in today’s athletics and one that speaks very well of the George Washington fans.
The Owls open their home conference schedule tomorrow night with a 7 p.m. match against the Dayton Flyers. On Saturday at 5pm, the Owls will host the Rhode Island Rams in a rematch of last year’s Atlantic 10 Championship game.