Gabriella Matautia honored

Senior Gabriella Matautia has been named the Under Armour 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.”

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 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