Early tournaments help lessen travel burden for volleyball

With the volleyball season roughly a month away, the team will get ready to embark upon a series of weekend tournaments before the conference schedule begins Sep. 24 in Storrs against Conneticut.

Temple will play four tournaments before their American Athletic Conference opener, the first of which is the Syracuse tournament Aug. 30 and 31.  The following weekend, the Owls will host the Temple tournament before playing the Long Island University-Brooklyn and Big 5 tournaments during next two weekends, respectively.

Coach Bakeer Ganes said one thing in particular stands out in regard to his team’s starting the season with four consecutive tournaments.

“Travel,” Ganes, entering his fourth year as Temple volleyball coach in 2014, said. “It’s much easier on the student-athletes.”

With several long trips on the horizon once American Athletic Conference play kicks off, the Owls’ early fixtures in the region allow Ganes’ team a chance to play without the usual dose of wear and tear.  However, the early weekends involve three matches in two days, which can take its toll.

“It would be more ideal to play one match a day,” Ganes said, discussing the schedule’s opening portion.

However, the consistent play early on gives Ganes a chance to get a feel for what he has on the roster and the best way to utilize his players before facing American foes.

“We have four weekends to get ready for conference play,” Ganes said.  “It’s 12 matches, so we want to take advantage of ever match and figure out the best lineup and just take care of the fine-tuning.”

The Owls’ early schedule is similar to that of other schools in The American, though Ganes noted Central Florida hosted two tournaments before conference play started last season.

One may think a volleyball team playing three matches in two weekend days would cause fatigue issues. Ganes downplayed that potential concern, noting a deep roster helps him figure things out early in the season and avoid players becoming fatigued early.

“We try to have a good-sized squad so we can rotate kids through,” Ganes said. “It also allows us to find the best starting six we need when we start conference play.”

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