If only the Owls could play every game against a team named the Rams.
The volleyball team defeated the Rhode Island Rams, 3-0, Saturday at McGonigle Hall, still riding the momentum of the previous day’s 3-0 win over the Fordham Rams (30-15, 30-22, 30-25). The victory over URI gave the Owls their sixth win in the Atlantic Ten Conference.
The Owls (9-13, 6-1) gained confidence in the Fordham win, statistically with their best offensive match of the season. Zhen Jia Liu contributed to the offense with a team-high 19 kills and 10 digs while Yue Liu chipped in with 17 kills and 11 digs. Alison Runk led the Owls with 45 assists.
“One of the things this team needs right now is to build their confidence,” coach Bob Bertucci said. “Every time we play a match and win helps us to build our confidence.”
The Owls were able to prepare for this weekend since both Rhode Island and Fordham use similar blocking formations.
“I expected that we’d have a tough match against Rhode Island,” Bertucci said.
The Owls answered their coach’s concerns by quickly building an 18-8 lead in the first game.
“I thought it was real important for us to jump out on Rhode Island,” Bertucci said, adding that the team focused on being aggressive with the serve, taking the middle players out of the game, and allowing the Owl blockers to focus on the Rams’ outside hitters.
A lack in concentration and a few unforced errors allowed the Rams to pull within two points before the Owls finally put them down, 30-27, in the first game.
The second game started tight with neither team taking more than a three point lead before Temple began to overpower URI and pulled away for a 30-20 victory.
“We stayed more focused and we didn’t lose our focus,” Bertucci said of the second game. “We opened it up because we weren’t making errors and we weren’t giving them points.”
In the final game, Temple took the lead early and never looked back, controlling the game the entire time for a 30-23 win.
Yue Liu put up 14 kills and 18 digs for Temple as she added her fifth straight double-double. Runk again led the team with 33 assists. Middle-blocker Laura Leis particularly impressed Bertucci.
“That was probably one of her best hitting and blocking combination games that I have ever seen her have,” he said.
While the Owls improved to 6-1 in the A-10, the toughest part of the schedule is still to come.
With key home matches against George Washington and Duquesne coming up, he noted that the team must play energized at home. Bertucci said that road matches at Xavier and Rhode Island will be tough.
Today’s match at Villanova matches Bertucci against his former assistant coach, Gilad Doron.
Bertucci said that Doron will have his players well-trained and prepared.
“I know that is going to be a tough game,” Bertucci said. “We just have to go into that game playing like we’re playing right now.”
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.