Temple volleyball’s hopes for four consecutive Atlantic 10 Tournament championships came to a screeching halt Nov. 18, in the form of a three-games-to-one loss to Sara Bachus and the Xavier Musketeers.
The game scores were 10-15, 15-13, 11-15 and 2-15.
The first-round defeat dropped Temple to 19-10 on the season, and ended Temple’s hopes of making the NCAA Tournament this season.
Bachus, who was honored as this year’s Atlantic 10 Player of the Year before the tournament, led Xavier with 21 kills and 23 digs. Alma Kovaci, last year’s A-10 Player of the Year, posted a match-high 34 kills and 26 digs.
The Owls committed several errors throughout the match, which prevented them from making any substantial runs.
In the first game, the errors came on the service, which is usually a strength for the Owls. The numerous side-outs eventually caught up to Temple as Xavier captured the first game.
Temple played vintage Owls volleyball in the second game to tie the match at one apiece, but oddly enough, the Owls reverted back to their mistake-laden ways for the rest of the match as the Musketeers won the final two games to advanced to the championship round against George Washington.
The Colonials defeated host Dayton in the first game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.
The win over Temple ended up being bittersweet for Xavier.
On the following day, the George Washington Colonials upended the Musketeers in a five-set marathon that will certainly go down in Atlantic 10 championship lore. The game scores were 15-8, 15-6, 5-15, 10-15 and 20-18.
George Washington took control of the match early, cruising through the first two games in what looked like a walk in the park. But while George Washington was mentally punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, Xavier was regrouping to mount an incredible comeback, dominating the third and fourth games.
The comeback pushed the match to the rally scoring fifth set, in which all points count.
Neither team held a lead larger than two for the entire set as both squads traded points. But perhaps drawing on experience from their two fifth-set losses to Temple earlier in the season, the Colonials had just enough clout to pull out a nail-biter and gain an automatic berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The All-Tournament team consisted of Temple’s Alma Kovaci, Sara Bachus, Jill Hampton and Tami Ores of Xavier, and Tracee Brown and Jill Levy of George Washington.
In other regular season awards, Temple outside-hitter Yamit Haba earned Rookie of the Year honors, and George Washington’s Jojit Coronel captured the Coach of the Year award.
Temple’s slide continued with a 3-0 loss to Central Florida in the Central Florida Volleyball tournament Nov. 24. The Owls rebounded with a 3-1 win over Fairfield in the same tournament the next day.
The Fairfield victory gave Temple a 20-11 record for the season.