WRITTEN BY: GREGORY FRANK
Temple extended its winning streak to five on Friday night with a 3-0 victory over Tulsa. The Owls had a higher hitting percentage in each of the three sets and won going away to stay hot heading into the final week of the season.
In the first set, Temple started fast and didn’t look back. The Owls had a total of 21 kills in the set and committed just six errors. Defensively, Temple did a good job limiting the effectiveness of Tulsa’s hitters as Tulsa totaled just 10 kills in the opening set which Temple would win 25-18.
“I think we had a game plan, we stuck to our game plan and our game plan worked out in the long run,” junior middle blocker Kirsten Overton said.
If there was a tense moment on Friday night for Temple, it was certainly the second set. There were a total of 12 lead changes in the second set, compared to just four in the first and third sets. However, in the guts of the set, the Owls were the better team and pulled out a close call by a score of 25-22.
In a game like volleyball where everything happens so quickly, being mentally prepared to withstand a run is key. The mental readiness of the Owls was tested in that second set but they were pleased with their response.
“Volleyball is 90 percent mental,” sophomore outside hitter Izzy Rapacz said. “We knew that Tulsa was going to come out swinging. They were very competitive at the beginning [of the second set] and ended up getting a lead.”
The third set wasn’t much of a contest though and while the score was 25-21 in favor of the Owls, there was just one lead change in the set as Temple wrapped up the sweep.
Unfortunately for the Owls, Southern Methodist clinched the American Athletic Conference championship on Friday night with a win over Connecticut. But, SMU prematurely celebrated after its last win and is next on the schedule for Temple. Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam does not think it will be difficult to motivate his team, who clinched a share of second in The American with the win over Tulsa.
“I don’t think it will be difficult at all to motivate the team at this point,” Ganesharatnam said. “We’re highly, highly motivated to play well against SMU. SMU clearly showed that they’re the number one team so far but we feel like we didn’t perform well when we played them the first time.”
Temple lost 3-0 to SMU on October 9 and is looking to avenge that loss on Sunday. The Owls wrap up the season on Friday at East Carolina.