The volleyball team was unable to continue their Cinderella run through the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.
The fifth seeded Owls (19-11, 8-7 in the A-10) were swept by top-seeded Dayton (24-4, 15-0 in the A-10) 25-19, 25-16, 25-14 in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Saturday afternoon.
Temple outperformed their preseason expectations, advancing to the semifinals of the tournament after being picked to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the preseason poll. Head coach Bakeer Ganes said he was happy with the results of the season.
“To advance to the semifinals is great,” Ganes said. “It speaks to the hard work that the team has done all season long. I’m really proud of them and happy for them.”
Junior outside hitter Gabriella Matautia led the Owls in kills with 15. Ganes said she played particularly well, especially given Dayton’s strategy.
“It was not easy for Gabby, because as one of our main offensive threats, they were keying on her,” Ganes said. “She faced a lot of double blocks, so she really made adjustments. I think she had a good match, which is very very hard to do against Dayton.”
Senior libero Chelsea Tupuola led the team with 11 digs in her final match as an Owl. Ganes said the Flyers were trying to avoid hitting the ball to her.
“They know she’s a great defensive player,” Ganes said. “Dayton is much bigger and more physical, and they really overpowered us in the middle and the outsides. It’s really tough to defend against them.”
Temple’s best stretch was at the beginning of the first set. At one point, both teams were tied at 14 points, and neither team had led by more than two points.
However, Dayton then went on a 7-0 run and won the set easily.
The Flyers jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the second set, establishing a lead that Temple was never able to surmount. For the rest of the set, Dayton never led by less than five points.
The third set went largely the same way. Dayton raced off to an 11-4 lead. The Owls were able to keep the set from becoming a blowout, but they never got within less than six.
This was Temple’s final volleyball match as a member of the A-10.
“They’ve won multiple championships in this conference, so there’s a lot of history there,” Ganes said. “It feels really good to go out and make the semifinals.”
Overall, Ganes is happy with the team’s performance.
“I really think the girls came out and competed and gave them a good match,” Ganes said. “I’m really proud that the girls didn’t give up, that they fought to the last point.”
Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EvanCross.