After Connecticut defeated the Owls in American Athletic Conference Oct. 14, one month later they hoped to avenge that loss.
Wednesday evening, the Owls (21-8, 12-5 American Athletic Conference) defeated Connecticut 3-1, with the Owls holding Connecticut to a kill rate less than 20 percent in each set.
“We really worked hard to make adjustments on the block,” coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. “[Connecticut] is a very aggressive team, and we wanted to slow them down to give us an opportunity to attack.”
The Owls won the first set 25-16 and had a kill rate of 34.6 percent. Sophomore outside hitter Irem Asci, junior middle blocker Kirsten Overton and junior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz all finished the first set with four kills.
The second set went back and forth. There nine ties and six lead changes before Connecticut won the set 25-21.
The set was the Owls’ worst offensive and defensive performance of the night as Temple totaled an 11 percent kill rate and allowed a kill rate of 17.8 percent.
“I think they started running their offense better,” sophomore middle blocker Janine Simmons said. “In the first, set we were definitely controlling the match, being really aggressive and taking them out of their system. But in the second set, [Connecticut] had more opportunities to stay in system and run their offense.”
The Owls jumped out to a 23-18 lead in the third set, but Connecticut rattled off five straight points before Ganesharatnam called a timeout.
After the timeout, Temple rallied and won the set 26-24.
“We calmed down in the timeout,” Asci said. “We came out of the timeout and did our job.”
The fourth set was highlighted by a 10-point run by Temple in the middle of the set.
After trailing 7-6, the Owls, with Asci serving, took a commanding 16-7 lead and won the set 25-16.
Wednesday’s win was Temple’s fourth consecutive home win. With three games remaining, the squad is still in the running for the American conference championship, trailing Southern Methodist by four games.
Temple needs to win its three remaining games, and Southern Methodist has to lose its remaining four games for the Owls to win the conference.
“Mathematically we still have a shot to win the conference, so as long as the change exists that is our goal,” Ganesharatnam said. “I think we did a great job staying alive today, and hopefully [Connecticut] takes care of business against SMU on Friday. But we want to do our part.”
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com.