Written by Greg Frank: @g_frank6
It was an entertaining affair on Friday night at McGonigle Hall. The Owls welcomed in the Houston Cougars to North Broad Street. While Temple came in in second place in the American Athletic Conference standings and Houston was in fifth place, Houston still boasted a 14-6 overall record entering the match and was the only team in conference to knock off conference leader Southern Methdoist.
On Friday night, Houston would knock off the second place team in the conference as well as the Cougars took down the Owls 3-2. Houston would win sets one, three and five by scores of 25-23, 25-22 and 15-13 respectively. Temple dominated sets two and four winning both by identical scores of 25-14.
Consistency was a problem for the Owls, whose level dropped in big moments in the odd numbered sets. Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam echoed that sentiment following the loss as Temple hit just .154 and .132 in sets one and three.
“We made it easy on them by making a lot of unforced errors and I think that’s kind of the story of the match,” Ganesharatnam said. “We need to work on minimizing those unforced errors and if we do that we walk away with the W.”
Senior setter Sandra Sydlik finished with 31 assists and felt that in the sets the Owls lost, they came out slow and never got all the way back.
“It would be like a 4-0 start for them so it was really hard to catch up,” Sydlik said. “I think it’s a focus thing. It’s definitely something we have to work out. I think it always happens in the beginning of the sets.”
The Owls had four players in double digit kills as Irem Asci, Kirsten Overton, Tyler Davis and Izzy Rapacz all had solid nights offensively for Temple. Senior libero Alyssa Drachslin also added 20 digs. The Owls hitting percentage did improve significantly in sets four and five as Temple hit .571 in the fourth set and .538 in the final set.
Ganesharatnam did notice improvement throughout and saw that as a silver lining.
“Not everything was bad today obviously,” Ganesharatnam said. “Houston is a very good team.”
The Owls could still be in second place by the end of the weekend in the American Athletic Conference standings. Having played a gritty Houston team and SMU earlier in the season and lost to both, the Owls still feel good about where they’re at in the standings.
“We are all confident and we are going to keep fighting,” Sydlik said. “I think we will be fine. We are a good team. It’s just some little things we have to work on.”
The Owls will be back in action Sunday when they take on Tulane at home.