Temple University women’s volleyball team (9-6, 0-4 The American Athletic Conference) lost to Houston Cougars (10-9, 4-0 The AAC) on Sunday afternoon, losing their sixth straight match. The Owls climbed out from a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth set.
Temple trailed through most of the first set, but stayed within four points. The Owls were not able to garner momentum for a rally, and fell 25-22 to the Cougars.
They looked as if they were primed to even the match up at one game a piece — getting out to a 15-9 lead — before a 9-3 Houston run lead to a 25-21 loss.
“I thought the first two sets were actually not bad at all,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “I thought we played pretty well. At the end, there were one or two plays that could have gone either way and we could have possibly had one of those two sets. From a moral standpoint it was really good that we didn’t fall apart after that because that was kind of devastating.”
The Owls returned the favor from the second set by fighting back from a 16-10 Houston lead, winning their first set of the day 25-23.
Next, Temple enjoyed the easiest set of the afternoon for either team, dominating the Cougars 25-11.
The fifth set featured some long and dramatic rallies the Cougars got the better of. Houston won the fifth set 15-12 to take the match.
“Houston played some tremendous defense,” Ganesharatnam said. “They picked up some balls that are usually kills, and then towards the second part we made some serving errors and I think that together maybe made the difference in the end.”
Much of the Owls’ production came up front, where they out-blocked the Cougars 11-4. They turned to freshman outside hitter Naomi Janetzke to relieve the injured right side hitter, sophomore Peyton Boyd. Janetzke finished second on the team in kills with 14 on a .314 percentage and four block assists.
For the Cougars, senior outside hitter Megan Duncan carried a heavy load on offense, putting up 24 kills on 61 attempts, more than double that of any of her teammates.
Junior libero Averi Salvador who led the Owls with 24 digs noted the different attitude the team carried in the match against Houston compared to previous outings.
“In our past matches, once we lost a set we kind of acted like we lost the whole game already and I think today it was a different mentality,” Salvador said. “I think that’s the biggest takeaway, we just need to fight and fight for every point, anything can happen.”
With Sunday’s loss, the Owls are now 9-6, with a 0-4 conference record.
The Owls will return to action this Friday at McGonigle Hall against East Carolina and on Sunday against Cincinnati.