It was a match of runs between Temple and West Virginia University in the second round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. The Owls came out to play early on against the Mountaineers on Wednesday, but they were never able to take control of the match.
Freshman outside hitter Katerina Papazoglou opened the match with a kill that sparked three straight points for Temple. The Mountaineers responded by scoring three straight to tie the first set. There were 13 ties and four lead changes in the first set. West Virginia eventually won the opening set by just two points.
Temple’s (20-10, 15-5 American Athletic Conference) season ended with a 3-0 loss to West Virginia in the second round of the NIVC. The Owls stayed competitive in the opening set but struggled in the second and third sets to contain West Virginia’s offense on the Mountaineers’ home floor.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Owls finished the season with 20 wins or more. Temple’s appearance in the NIVC marked the first time the Owls played in a postseason tournament since 2002.
Temple’s postseason appearance in 2002 ended with former coach Bob Bertucci helping the Owls make a run at the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
After the Owls lost the first two sets, they made a run in the third set.
A dig from junior middle blocker Iva Deak put senior setter Kyra Coundourides in position to set up senior middle blocker Janine Simmons for a kill to bring Temple within three points. The 10-7 score was the closest the Owls got to West Virginia’s lead in the third set.
West Virginia outside hitters senior Morgan Montgomery and sophomore Payton Caffrey combined for 24 kills.
The Owls lost by seven in the second set, but it was their most efficient offensive set. Temple finished the second set hitting 34.5 percent to West Virginia’s 33.3 percent.
Though Temple hit a higher percentage than the Mountaineers in the second set and equaled them in kills, it was the serve that made the difference. The Owls allowed five service aces in the second set alone and lost 25-18.
West Virginia then opened up the third set scoring five consecutive points. The Owls were never able to recover from the deficit and lost that set 25-12.
The Mountaineers outscored Temple 15-5 in the final stretch of the third set to win by 13 points. The Owls only had eight kills on 33 total attacks in the final set. It was their lowest hitting percentage of the match at 12.1 percent.
The defensive statistics were nearly identical, despite the sweep. Temple had six blocks to West Virginia’s seven blocks. The Owls also had 44 digs compared to 45 digs from the Mountaineers.
Offensively, West Virginia won all three sets but only had eight more total kills than Temple for the match. The difference was in the offensive efficiency between the two teams.
West Virginia’s attack percentage of 32.1 was more than 10 points greater than Temple’s 20.2 percent. The Owls also had more attack errors. West Virginia only had 10 attack errors while the Owls swung for 16 attack errors. Poor serve receive also played a major key in Temple’s loss.
Six different West Virginia players scored points on their serves. The Mountaineers ended the match with seven service aces, which tied for the second most service aces a Temple opponent has scored this season.