Atlantic 10 opponents have been dropping like flies lately at McGonigal Hall, and last week was no different.
Temple Volleyball upended both the LaSalle Explorers and the Fordham Rams last week three-games-to-none to complete an undefeated, six-game home stand. The scores of the games were 15-13, 15-6 and 15-13 versus LaSalle, and 15-12, 15-12 and 15-13 against Fordham.
The victories, both without injured star Alma Kovaci, were the fifth and sixth consecutive wins for Temple (9-6) as they continue in sole possession of first place in the A-10. Yet, despite sweeping both games, both LaSalle and Fordham played Temple tough, matching the Owls point-for-point for almost the entire matches.
“Everybody is playing us now like this is going to make their season to beat us,” Temple coach Bob Bertucci said. “I’ve been happy with the fact that the girls have stepped up and accepted the reality that Alma is out.
“The challenge for them is to make up for the 35 kills a game, and they have. It’s been a real credit to them.”
Against LaSalle, the freshman-senior tandem of Brandy Best and Yamit Haba led the Owls. Best recorded a game-high 15 kills and 8 digs, while Haba put together a double-double with 14 kills and 19 digs.
Haba later put together another strong performance against Fordham, earning her second double-double of the week with 15 kills and 12 digs. The dual performance earned the freshman sensation her second A-10 Volleyball Rookie of the Week honor of the season.
Kovaci is still out with a sprained ankle suffered two weeks ago against Dayton. According to Bertucci, Kovaci is now practicing with the team, but she is not getting off the ground with quite the same explosiveness. Bertucci said he would like to rest her for the upcoming game against Massachusetts, though everything depends on the progress she makes leading up to the game.
But there is a big question lingering for Bertucci and the Owls.
Upon Kovaci’s return, will the Owls revert back to their original “all-Alma” attack? Or will they continue to spread the ball around like they have been doing so successfully for the last two weeks?
According to Bertucci, the answer is a little bit of both.
“When Alma comes back, there are some things that go back to the way they were in terms of our system of play,” Bertucci explains. “But, at the same token I hope that we’re better at some other things. [So] with Alma coming back, it is going to help raise ourselves to another level.”
After playing six straight games at home, the Owls will travel to the New England area to play UMass on Friday, and then the Rhode Island Rams on Saturday. Temple’s next home match will be Tuesday, Oct. 17 against Rutgers University at McGonigle Hall.