Volleyball continues homestand

The  volleyball team will host two American Athletic Conference matches this weekend, as the Owls take on Houston on Friday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., and then face SMU on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m.

“Both matches this weekend are going to be exciting and very competitive matches,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “Two excellent teams are coming. Houston and SMU are both 3-1 in the conference. Both teams are very physical, physically gifted in many ways.”

Temple also sits at 3-1 in the conference and 11-4 overall so they want to prove that they belong at the top of this conference. The Owls were picked to finish seventh in the preseason but they are proving that ranking wrong so far this year.

Senior Gabriella Matautia leads the Owls and the entire conference with 4.22 points per set. She is also second in the conference in kills per set with 3.69. Sophomore libero Alyssa Drachslin is the team leader in digs with 4.11 digs/set. Junior middle blocker Jennifer Iacobini leads the team in total blocks with 48, and also leads the team with 18 service aces which rank fourth in the conference.

This is a young Temple team this year with only three seniors on the roster so a few freshmen have been called on to step up and play big time minutes. Caroline Grattan and Tyler Davis are answering that call, as they are both top four on the team in kills with just over 2 kills per set.

Ganes knows it will be a tough task this weekend with Houston and SMU but has confidence in his team.

“We again are going to under sized,” Ganes said. “It’s a great challenge and hopefully the atmosphere the same or even better than what we had against Memphis. We are looking forward to this competition this week. “

Owls drop Louisville match

Temple volleyball (10-4, 1-1) lost on Sunday against American Athletic Conference preseason favorite Louisville (6-6, 2-0), in four sets by scores of 25-21, 18-25, 16-25 and 16-25.

The Owls won the first set but couldn’t hold the momentum as they lost the next three. The match had a crowd of 2,565 on hand, the largest crowd Temple has played in front of since hosting Penn State in 2009.

Senior Gabriella Matautia led Temple with 13 kills, while sophomore Alyssa Drachslin was the team leader in digs with 16. Freshman Halle McCullough recorded a team-best five blocks for Temple.

Louisville got a lot of their points on block plays (15.5 on the day) which Temple could not rebound from.

Louisville picked up strength in the second set, as Temple fell behind in each and was unable to close the gaps against the Cardinals who advanced to the NCAA Second Round a season ago and finished at 30-4 overall.

Temple will be back at home next weekend against Memphis on Friday, Oct. 4 at 7:00 p.m.

Gabriella Matautia honored

Senior Gabriella Matautia has been named the Under Armour OwlSports.com Athlete of the Week for the week of Sept. 16. Matautia was also named to the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll.

After three solid matches this past weekend, Matautia was named to the Temple Invitational All-Tournament Team. She recorded her 1,000th career kill last week against Penn and has now totaled 1,051 career kills.

“Being able to get 1,000 kills in my four years is awesome, I am really glad I was able to break 1,000 kills,” Matautia said. “Yes, all the kills is nice, but I think the most important thing is that we are coming together as a team. The group that we have been playing with has been working, it helps that we have such a big block. Sandra [Sydlik] has been doing really well, and if we continue to work and get better it’s going to be great.”

Matautia, who has been the offensive leader in Temple’s 9-3 start to the season, recorded ten or more kills in all three matches for the week as Temple went 2-1 at its own tournament. Mautatia is averaging 3.90 kills per set which is tops in the American Athletic conference.

As conference games kickoff this weekend against Cincinnati (0-13) on Friday and Louisville (6-4) on Saturday, Mautatia knows her and the teams play needs to get even better.

“We are up and down too much, we need to stay at one level, as well as reducing errors and executing what we need to get done,” Matautia said. “We are excited for the challenge of conference play to see where our team is at.”

Volleyball set to host Temple Invitational

It took three weeks, but the volleyball team will finally have its home opener Friday night against Delaware State. The Owls will be home all weekend as they host the two-day Temple Invitational in the newly-renovated McGonigle Gym.

The Owls are coming in hot, winners of seven of their first nine matches which is the best start since 2001. Head coach Bakeer Ganes is in his third season patrolling the sidelines for Temple and has never been off to this good of a start as a head coach.

“I think we are doing as well as we thought we would be doing at this point in the season,” Ganes said. “I think it’s a great thing that we are off to a good start, of course. It is very important for the confidence. It shows all the hard work that the players have gone through in the summer and the pre-season. But it is not how we look like in the third week of the season, it’s how you finish.”

Temple went 3-0 at the Patriot Invitational two weeks ago and took the title, and senior Gabriella Matautia was named Tournament MVP. She also received American Athletic Conference Player of the Week,

This past weekend, the Owls went 2-1 at the Penn Invitational at the Palestra, defeating both Weber State and La Salle by scores of 2-1. The Owls dropped a tight, five-set match to host Penn. Matautia was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Opposite.

The team has eight new players and five freshman but they are coming together nicely. The freshman are getting a lot of playing time, especially Caroline Grattan and Tyler Davis. Senior transfer student Emily Carlin has been a nice addition to the team as she has gotten 10+ kills in 5 matches.

The Owls play two games Saturday, 1 PM against Brown and then again at 7 PM versus Hoftra.

Volleyball to participate in Patriot League Invitational

The volleyball team heads south this weekend to participate in the Patriot League Invitational. They will play three matches in Fairfax, Va. against George Mason, Radford, and Coppin State.

“I think it’s a great tournament because Radford is playing really well this season,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “They are 3-1 after beating Cal St. Fullerton last night, George Mason is 0-3 but every match they have had has been really tight, they easily could be 3 and 0. Those will definitely be the toughest of the three teams we play. Coppin State I think is personally a little weaker then George Mason but you never know in a tournament setting.”

The team will look to improve on last weekend’s performance as the team went 1-1 in the Buffalo Invitational.

“I think this is a really good test for us as we progress forward with this team in this young season,” Ganes said. “We are really looking forward to play in this tournament. I thought we were a little inconsistent last weekend, but we kind of expected that, it is always tough coming out of preseason and jumping right into game action especially with eight new players, but hopefully we will be a little bit more stable this week.”

This weekend also marks the homecoming for Tiffany Connatster, the native of Fairfax lives only five minutes away from where the Owls will be playing.

“I think it is going to be really fun, it’s going to be nice to have my family, coach, and old friends there cheering me on,” Connatster said. “They don’t have to drive three hours to come see me play, I am really looking forward to returning home to play.”

Another storyline is Emily Carlin plays her former team, Radford University, in the second game of the tournament. Carlin played three seasons there and just transferred to Temple this year.

“I am filled with excitement, it is fueling the fire for me this weekend,” Carlin said. “I am ready to go out there and play with this team and win.”

The Owls take on Radford in the first game at 5 p.m. Friday.

Matautia named to All-Conference Preseason Team, Owls place 7th in poll

In the inaugural preseason coach’s vote in the American Athletic Conference, Temple senior captain Gabriella Matautia was named to the All-American Athletic Conference Preseason Team and the Owls were picked to finish seventh in the preseason poll.

Last year as a junior, Matautia was at the top of her game. She received the honor of being selected to the Atlantic 10 First Team and was also named to the A-10 All-Championship Team. She led the Owls with 437 kills, and ranked second in the A-10 overall with 4.05 kills per set. She was a huge part in leading Temple to a 19-11 record, which was eleven more wins than they had in 2011. She was a dominant server, leading the team and all players in the conference with 41 service aces.

Matuatia is proud of her honors last season but knows that she needs to bring the same focus and determination this season to repeat such a great year.

“I want to start out strong this season, help get our team off to a good start, and finish the season at my best,” Matautia said. “We have depth on our team and a lot of new players that bring additional strengths. I think together we have a great chance to compete against these big teams, and better our overall record compared to last year.”

Temple was the seventh-most improved team in NCAA Division I, placing fifth in the Atlantic Ten with a 19-11 record. The Owls were picked to finish 11th of 12 teams in the Atlantic 10 in 2012, but placed fifth with a record of 8-6 to earn the program’s first trip to the A-10 Tournament since 2009.

The favorite in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll is Louisville who put up a dominant 30-4 record in the Big East last season. UCF was picked second, followed by UConn, Cincinnati and USF rounds out the top five. The votes were cast by the league’s 10 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

Volleyball schedule released for 2013 season

This year marks a new season, a new team, and for the first time in over 30 years a brand new conference for the women’s volleyball team—and yesterday, its schedule for the 2013 season was released.

The season kicks off with the University of Buffalo Invite the last weekend of August, followed by the Patriot Invitational at George Mason. The following weekend, the Owls come home to host the Temple Invitation starting on Sept. 20, which will be the fourth straight season that they will be holding the event.

The start of conference play in the new American Athletic Conference starts with a big road test against Cincinnati and Louisville. The Cardinals are coming off of a 30-4 2012 campaign and finished 17th in the Division I coaches poll. The Owls then play five straight home games, opening with Memphis on Oct. 4. The schedule also includes a five game road trip in which the Owls play three teams with better records then they themselves had last season. They play their final two matches in late November against the University of Central Florida and the University of Southern Florida.

“Our non-conference schedule is as competitive as it was last year, if not more so,” third-year head coach Bakeer Ganes said in a press release. “Trips to Buffalo, George Mason, and Penn as well as our home tournament on the fourth weekend will really prepare us for conference play. We open our American schedule with Cincinnati and Louisville which are probably the top two teams in the league. This schedule will be very competitive and very challenging, but also very exciting”.

The Owls are coming into 2013 ranked the seventh most improved team in Division I, as they won 11 more games last season than they did the year prior. They finished 19-11, good enough for fifth place in the conference and a trip to the conference tournament for the first time since 2009.

2013 Volleyball Schedule