Volleyball upsets Duquesne, advances to semifinals

The Owls upset Duquesne in five sets to advance to the A-10 semifinals.

When the season began they were supposed to finished second to last.

Now, the volleyball team is one win away from reaching the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament finals.

Temple (19-10, 8-6 in the A-10) stunned fourth-seeded Duquesne (22-11, 9-5 in the A-10) in the opening round of the tournament in five sets by scores of 19-25, 25-10, 25-19, 17-25, 15-10 in Pittsburgh, Pa., Friday night.

The Dukes were favored to win after sweeping the Owls earlier this season.

However, Temple stayed close in the early parts of the first set but Duquesne was able to pull ahead thanks to multiple blocks and clutch hitting. The Owls only committed two hitting errors after tying the score 7-7 but weren’t able to get a footing.

Due to three errors by the Dukes and three kills by senior outside hitter Jingyu Zhang the Owls stormed out to a 7-0 lead in the second set. Duquesne never mounted a serious comeback after that, only managing to draw within seven points.

After tying the third set at 3-3 Temple went on a 7-2 run and once again never looked back. Zhang knocked down five kills in the set, the same as she did in the second set.

Despite the momentum shift the Dukes took a commanding 6-1 lead to open up the fourth set. The team that was able to jump out early seemed to control the fate of a set.

The Owls were able to climb back to take a 10-9 lead but Duquesne pulled out of reach with a 15-5 run. Three quick attack errors by the Owls after taking the lead doomed the squad and led to an even set score at 2-2.

In the deciding set, Temple was able to jump to a 6-2 lead thanks in part two kills and an ace by junior outside hitter Gabriella Matautia. Duquesne closed to within one on a 3-0 run of their own but two errors by the Dukes pushed the momentum back in the Owls favor with the score at 10-7.

A few points later and the Owls closed out the match thanks to back-to-back kills by Matautia and junior outside hitter Elyse Burkert.

While the stats don’t show it — they hit .168 on the night — the Owls got exactly the production they needed by a trio of hitters in Zhang (17 kills, .368 hitting percentage) and Matautia (17 kills and 13 digs) and Burkert (19 kills and nine digs).

Senior libero Chelsea Tupuola, playing in her first A-10 Tournament since her freshman year, recorded a match high 33 digs one day after being named the A-10 Libero of the Year.

Temple has less than 24 hours to prepare for their semi-final match against top seed Dayton, to take place Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Flyers dismantled the Owls in McGonigle earlier this season 3-0 a day after Temple upset Xavier, who will take on Virginia Commonwealth University in the other semi-final match.

If Temple pulls off another upset they will play in the finals on Sunday, which will air on the CBS Sports Network at noon.

Jake Adams can be reached at jacob.adams@temple.edu or on Twitter @jakeadams520.

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