Volleyball snaps three-game losing streak in Albany

The Owls saw a mix of season highs and lows during three matches this weekend.

Junior libero Mia Heirakuji’s defensive efforts helped the Owls go 2-1 and earned her the MVP award of the Desmond Hotel Invitational this weekend. | EVAN EASTERLING / FILE PHOTO

Temple competed in the Desmond Hotel Invitational, hosted by the University of Albany, on Friday and Saturday.

The Owls dropped their first match on Friday to Colgate University before sweeping St. John’s University and Albany on Saturday to improve to 3-3.

In its opening match Friday, Temple struggled on both sides of the ball against then-unbeaten Colgate. The Owls hit a season-low 4.5 percent for the match while allowing the Raiders to hit 28.7 percent.

Temple couldn’t find consistency and suffered its first sweep of the season, losing to Colgate 3-0. Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam attributed the Owls’ loss to their lack of execution on first contact hits.

“We had a hard time with our serve-receive and our defense. Because of that, the direct result was that we couldn’t really set up our offense,” Ganesharatnam said.

The Owls had a season-low 36 digs through all three sets against Colgate. Temple’s inability to defend its zones led to a lack of steady scoring.

No player reached double figures in points against Colgate’s defense, and the Owls had another season-low by attempting 88 total attacks. Redshirt-freshman outside hitter Dana Westfield led Temple with 7.5 points for the match.

The loss to Colgate marked the third consecutive defeat for the Owls after they lost to the University of Maryland and the University of Maryland Baltimore County last weekend. Temple rebounded from its losing streak with much better attention to detail during Saturday’s matches.

“We really focused on the adjustments we needed to make in order to progress and play better,” Ganesharatnam said. “I think it was a good approach rather than worrying about the losing streak.”

Against St. John’s, Temple locked in defensively. The Owls had 51 digs and 11 blocks, forcing St. John’s to hit just 15.1 percent. The improved defensive execution led to opportunities on offense. Temple had 48 kills on 118 attempts, hitting 28.8 percent against the Red Storm.

The Owls had even more success against Albany. Temple hit a season-high 37.8 percent against the tournament hosts and won each of the three sets by double digits. The Owls outscored the Great Danes 57-27, Temple’s greatest margin of victory through six matches.

On defense, the Owls recorded 11 blocks and 48 digs, stifling Albany’s attack.Temple held the Great Danes to hit just 1 percent, forcing 23 errors and allowing only 24 total kills.

Junior libero Mia Heirakuji earned Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Heirakuji finished the weekend with 35 digs while also contributing 11 assists.

Temple will host the Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia Cherry & White Challenge this coming weekend. It will be the first time the Owls get to play at home this season, and the team is excited.

The Owls will play Boston College (2-4) this Friday before finishing off against the University of Miami (6-0) on Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to coming home and playing some good competition at McGonigle Hall,” Ganesharatnam said. “We love our venue and we love our home fans, so I think it’s going to be a tremendous experience, especially for the freshmen, who will be experiencing it for the first time.”

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