Several Temple players had standout games against the Delaware State Hornets, whom the Owls defeated in straight sets on Friday night to open the Temple Invitational.
Freshman Caroline Grattan played her best game of the season, notching her first collegiate double-double with 10 kills and 13 digs.
“I thought Caroline did a really good job,” said head coach Bakeer Ganes. “She played really good defense. She passed the ball very consistently throughout the entire match. Overall, I thought this was probably the best match she played all season”
Grattan performed strongly in the second set in particular, helping the Owls rally and then pull away to win 25-16 after the Hornets jumped out to an early lead. Grattan led the Owls with six kills, and also excelled at serving, garnering one of Temple’s four aces and keeping Delaware State off balance. Grattan attributed her play to the team’s mental approach.
“I think we built up really good energy before the game. And I think the team got really excited to play, obviously it’s the first home match of the season. So I think just making sure we were all mentally ready for the game helped me a lot, and just kind of sticking with it as the game progressed kept the energy going, so it was really easy to feed off.”
Grattan spoke well of the Owls’ opponents, saying they were “frustrating at times.” She also gave credit to the Hornets for their digs, although Grattan had more digs than any one player on Delaware State.
“Balls that we expected to be kills were put up and rallies just kept going,” Grattan said. “I think [the Hornets] did a really good job of keeping the ball alive. That was, I think, the toughest thing about playing them, just making sure that we executed points instead of keeping the rally going.”
In the third set, which the Owls won 25-21, redshirt freshman Halle McCullough came through strong with four assisted blocks. She also scored the winning kill for the Owls.
Ganes was pleased with the progress McCullough has made this season. McCullough transferred from Gonzaga in the offseason, giving her four years to play with Temple.
“She’s definitely a work in progress,” Ganes said. “But she’s doing a great job so far. I thought she played pretty well. It’s not an easy job in the middle, because you’ve got to change tempo and direction so many times. And you don’t get a lot of sets, a lot of opportunities, in the middle. When you do get them, you’ve got to put the ball down, and I thought she did a good job.”
Although Grattan and McCullough both played great games and made key plays, Ganes stressed how strong Temple is overall.
“I can honestly say we don’t have a first and second team,” he stated. “We have two first teams.”
Don McDermott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org