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

Two Owls earn volleyball honors

Two Owls received Atlantic 10 Conference awards following a season which saw the team climb from the bottom of the conference to the fifth seed in the playoffs.

The Samoan duo of senior libero Chelsea Tupuola and junior outside hitter Gabriella Matautia were named the A-10 Libero of the Year and First Team All-Conference, respectively.

Tupuola also was named to the A-10 Second Team.

Matautia was second in the conference with 4.05 kills per set this season while leading the A-10 with .39 aces per set. Tupuola, who coach Bakeer Ganes has repeatedly claimed is the most important player on his team, lead the conference with 5.3 digs per set. She currently sits in seventh in school history with 1,385 digs.

Both players have been instrumental to the Owls resurrection this season, who stand at 8-6 in the conference heading into their first round match against fourth-seed Duquesne

-Jake Adams

Volleyball hosts La Salle with playoffs on the line

Sitting at 7-6 in the Atlantic 10 Conference the Owls host La Salle (4-25, 0-13 in the A-10) at 5 p.m. at McGonigle Hall with their postseason fate in their own hands.

Temple hosts the Explorers Friday in the regular season finale, looking to make the conference tournament for the first time in three years. A win and they’re in.

But if Temple loses that’s when things get complicated.

Dayton, Xavier, Virginia Commonwealth University and Duquesne are already in the tournament. If the season ended now Temple and George Washington would be in as well. Rhode Island and Butler are fighting for those spots as well, at 6-7 each.

The Owls are 1-1 over URI and lost to Butler on Sunday. They also lost to George Washington, meaning the Owls must hope all three teams lose if they lose to ensure they make the tournament.

The tricky part is if Temple, Butler and George Washington lose and Rhode Island wins. Because the Owls and Rams are 1-1 against each other this season they move to the second tiebreaker, which is head-to-head set record. Temple won the first meeting 3-0 and lost the second 3-2, giving them a 5-3 advantage in the edge in the tiebreaker.

Temple’s match against La Salle is the only A-10 game on Friday. If they lose they will have a long weekend waiting to find out their fate.

Rhode Island heads to Fordham on Saturday to take on the Rams at 4 p.m. George Washington travels to Duquesne on Saturday at 4 p.m. as well. The Colonials faced the Dukes once before this season, winning 3-1 at home on Oct. 5. Butler hosts Saint Louis at 5 p.m. The Bulldogs lost their first matchup of the season in St. Louis 3-1.

Obviously none of that matters if the Owls take care of business on Friday, but if they aren’t able to they will likely spend Saturday watching nervously.

This is the third matchup between Temple and La Salle this season. Temple swept La Salle in straight sets in the finale of the Big 5 Tournament in September. Junior outside hitter Elyse Burkert led the match with 12 kills.

In the A-10 season rematch the Owls swept them again, this time off the combination of junior outside hitter Gabriella Matautia’s 15 kills and Burkert’s 11.

Jake Adams

Volleyball sets up for crucial A-10 match against Butler

With two games remaining in the Atlantic 10 Conference season, the Owls (17-9, 7-5 in A-10) head to Butler (15-11, 5-7 in A-10) to take on the Bulldogs with playoff berths on the line.

It’s the two programs only match as conference foes, as Butler joined the A-10 this season and the Owls scheduled to move to the Big East Conference next season.

A victory for Temple secures the Owls one of the six playoff seeds in the A-10 tournament. If the Bulldogs come out on top they stay alive with a chance to unseat Temple, Duquesne or George Washington if they win their final match and get some help along the way.

A Temple victory would be ideal but the Owls also have a match against La Salle, keeping their fate in their own hands.

The match is set to begin at noon.

-Jake Adams

Volleyball fights for playoff spot

The Owls head west this weekend looking to secure one of the final spots in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.

Temple sits at 6-5 in the conference, in a three-way tie with Duquesne and George Washington. If the season ended today, they would be the fifth seed.

The Owls take on Saint Louis (8-17, 3-8 in A-10) to kick off the weekend. A win would knock out the Billikens, who need to win their final three contests and hope Temple loses all of theirs in order to have a shot at the final seed.

A Temple victory also keeps them two games ahead of Fordham (with the head-to-head tiebreaker) and a game ahead of Rhode Island, who both stand at 5-6.

Temple hasn’t made the tournament since 2009 under former coach Bob Bertucci. Bertucci’s final season in 2010 snapped a streak of 14 consecutive seasons in the conference playoffs.

The match against Saint Louis starts at 8 p.m.

-Jake Adams

Volleyball fights for playoff spot against Charlotte

Less than 24 hours after dropping its fourth match in five contests, the volleyball team is set to take on Atlantic 10 Conference opponent Charlotte (9-12, 1-8 in A-10) Sunday.

Temple (15-9, 5-5 in A-10) dropped their match against Virginia Commonwealth University Friday night, noticeably lost throughout the match and unable to generate any momentum. Charlotte is coming off a four-set victory over La Salle.

“I think Charlotte is much better than they’re record shows,” coach Bakeer Ganes said Thursday. “They lost some tight matches. I don’t think we can take them lightly.”

The Owls are trying to remain a game ahead of Fordham for the sixth and final conference playoff spot, with a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Rams, and just four games remaining in the regular season.

The match is set to start at 7 p.m.

-Jake Adams

Volleyball hosts A-10 newcomer VCU

The Owls (15-8, 5-4 in the Atlantic 10 Conference) return home this weekend with five games remaining in conference play.

On Friday they take on A-10 newcomer Virginia Commonwealth University, who is off to a hot start at 7-2 in the conference, tied with Xavier for second. The Rams are coming off three straight sweeps, against fellow newcomer Butler, George Washington and Duquesne.

“I think it’s going to be a really tough weekend for us because they’re very big and very physical,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “I think it really comes down to ball handling.”

“There’s a lot of excitement in this match on our part,” VCU coach James Finley said. “The girls have had it marked. They’re looking forward to going and we know it’s going to be a really tough match.”

Temple will be looking to ride the hot hand of junior outside hitter Gabriella Matautia, who recorded 30 and 25 kills in her two matches last weekend against Fordham and Rhode Island, respectively.

This is the teams’ only matchup as conference foes, with Temple set to leave for the Big East following this season.

The match begins at 7 p.m. in McGonigle Hall.

-Jake Adams