Volleyball sweeps Boston College in electric home opener

Senior outside hitter Irem Asci had a double-double in Friday’s win at McGonigle Hall.

The Owls huddle during their win against Boston College on Friday at McGonigle Hall. | CHIA YU LIAO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The 1,124 people at McGonigle Hall rose to their feet as Temple prepared to play a match point against Boston College in the third set.

After a kill by Eagles senior outside hitter Sol Calvete slipped past senior setter Kyra Coundourides to bring Boston College within one point, the Owls looked to respond just as they did all night Friday.

Temple stayed composed for the last play while the crowd’s energy resonated throughout the gym from fans stomping on the retractable bleacher seats. As the ball made its way over to Temple’s zone, Coundourides set up senior outside hitter Dara Peric for a match-winning kill that shot right back at Calvete.

It was a message sent from Temple: McGonigle Hall will be a hostile environment for opponents to play in this season.

In Temple’s first home match in 2017, it came away with a 3-0 win against Boston College. The Owls improved to 4-3.

“[The crowd] added a lot,” senior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz said. “Every single point, every single set, they were cheering. They were the energy of the game. That’s what made us energetic and partly made us win.”

Temple hit 27.9 percent compared to Boston College’s 15.8 percent in the match. Rapacz led the way offensively with a team-high 11 kills on an efficient 61.1 percent.

Friday’s victory was the Owls’ third straight sweep. The largest point margin in any set was five.

There were 11 ties in the first set alone. After a kill by redshirt-freshman outside hitter Dana Westfield brought Temple within two points of Boston College, the Eagles responded by scoring the next three points to take a 20-15 lead.

Temple’s defense tightened up following a timeout called by coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam. The Owls forced six errors on Boston College’s offense and surged a 10-2 run to take the first set, 25-22.

“We wanted to control the ball on our side and make sure we had a good service receive and first touches,” Ganesharatnam said.

The Owls totaled 40 digs and 11 blocks against the Eagles.

In the second set, Temple started by taking an early 9-4 lead, which forced Boston College to call a timeout. After two lead changes, Temple moved back in front of Boston College.

With the score 19-16, the teams went on a rally that had gasps and cheers coming from all over the gym. After several attack attempts and digs by each team, Boston College’s kills leader on Friday, sophomore right side hitter Cat Balido, broke the stalemate.

Balido rose high over the net and spiked the ball towards zone six. Temple junior libero Mia Heirakuji made a diving attempt at the rapid shot but couldn’t make contact before it hit the hardwood. In the next play, the two teams sustained another lengthy rally.

This time, Coundourides took matters into her own hands.

Although she is known for assisting her teammates, Coundourides set herself up in position to score and sent a ball past Balido to give the Owls a 20-17 lead. The play gave Temple momentum as it outscored Boston College 5-3 to close out the set.

In the second set, Temple and Boston College combined for 80 attack attempts, the most of any set.

The two teams played another competitive set in the third, but Temple’s accuracy was too much to handle for Boston College. The last three points scored by the Owls were all kills.

Senior outside hitter Irem Asci made all-around contributions, ending with 10 kills and 10 digs to record a double-double.

Senior outside hitter Irem Asci serves in the Owls’ straight sets win against Boston College on Friday at McGonigle Hall. | CHIA YU LIAO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Saturday’s closing match of the Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia Cherry & White Challenge between the Owls and the University of Miami was canceled due to safety and travel concerns related to Hurricane Irma. Temple’s next game is Friday against a 5-3 Villanova team.

“It’s going to be at their home, so it’s going to be a little tougher than [playing] here,” Asci said. “But we’re going to be ready. We’ve been playing them for years. We’ll be ready.”

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