Volleyball Looks to Continue Hot Streak at Home This Weekend vs. Xavier and #20 Dayton

Volleyball Looks to Continue Hot Streak at Home This Weekend vs. Xavier and #20 Dayton

PHILADELPHIA - With a six-match win streak and as-yet unblemished Atlantic 10 record on the line, Temple volleyball will likely face its toughest tests of the season this coming weekend as the Owls host Xavier and #20 Dayton. Temple (12-4, 2-0 A-10) will play Xavier on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7:00 p.m. for "Hawaiian Night," featuring leis, beach balls and music. 

On Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7:00 p.m., the Owls will play Dayton, currently ranked 20th in the nation. Live stats for both matches will be available HERE, and live webcasts for both matches will be available HERE.

LIKE IT'S 1999...
With an overall record of 12-4, the Owls are off to their best start in a season since the 1999 team went 16-4 before dropping a fifth match. That team was the third in a row to end up as A-10 Champion and advance to the NCAA Tournament. At 2-0 in the Atlantic 10 so far, Temple has matched its best league start since 2009.

Temple has not lost a match at home in the 2012 season, going 6-0 so far. Three of those wins came during its own Temple Invitational, and all but one of the wins were 3-0 sweeps for the Owls.

Of the Owls' 12 wins this season, nine have been sweeps for Temple. Of the 54 total sets the Owls have played, they have won 39 of them.

For the second theme night of the season, Temple has designated Friday's match as “Hawaiian Night.” The theme is of particular significance for junior Gabriella Matautia, who hails from Ewa Beach, Hawaii.

Beyond having impressive stats when compared to the rest of the A-10, many Temple players are nationally-ranked in a number of categories, as are the Owls as a team. With 11.78 assists per set, Tiffany Connatser currently ranks 10th in NCAA Division I. With 4.37 kills per set, Elyse Burkert ranks 23rd in the nation, and with 5.37 digs per set, Chelsea Tupuola ranks 25th. 

As a team, the Owls rank 10th among all teams in Division I with 17.85 digs per set, and 40th in service aces at 1.52 per set.

Over four non-conference tournaments this season, the Owls earned eight All-Tournament awards including two MVP awards. Chelsea Tupuola was named the MVP of both the Temple Invitational and the Big 5 Tournament. She was also named Best Libero at the Temple Invitational, and was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Miami (OH) Invitational. Elyse Burkert, who earned Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 10, was named to All-Tournament Teams at Miami and South Carolina. Jingyu Zhang was named the Best Spiker at the Temple Invitational, and Tiffany Connatser was named to the Big 5 All-Tournament Team.

Temple took its first-ever Big 5 Tournament title, and also won its own Temple Invitational. The Owls finished as runners-up at the Miami (OH) Invitational.

As a team, Temple leads the conference in digs (17.85 per set) and ranks second in three other categories. With 12.87 assists per set, the Owls rank second as a team. With 13.67 kills per set, Temple ranks second, and with 1.52 aces per set, the Owls also rank second.

Tiffany Connatser leads the A-10 in assists (11.78 per set), Gabriella Matautia leads the league in service aces (0.42 per set) and Chelsea Tupuola leads the conference in digs (5.37 per set). Elyse Burkert ranks second in the A-10 in both kills (4.37) and points (4.68 per set).

While Xavier stands at just 9-7 overall, the record is a deceiving one as the Musketeers have played a number of strong teams this season. Four of their losses have come to teams receiving votes in the national poll, and they took one of those (Notre Dame) to five sets.

Xavier is 2-0 in the A-10 with wins last weekend vs. Saint Louis (3-1) and Butler (3-0). The Musketeers' libero, senior Stephanie Vorherr, is second only to Temple's Tupuola in digs per set at 4.85. Leading Xavier offensively is junior outside hitter Sarah Brown with 3.33 kills per set.

Mike Johnson is in his third season as head coach at Xavier, and the Musketeers have appeared in the A-10 Tournament final in each of the last two seasons.

The 20th-ranked team in the nation, the Dayton Flyers, come into the weekend with a record of 10-4 overall and 2-0 in the conference. They will play at La Salle on Friday night before facing Temple on Saturday. All four of Dayton's losses have come to teams also ranked in the top 25 (Kansas State, Ohio State, Western Kentucky and Minnesota). The Flyers made the Ohio State match an extremely close one, losing just 15-12 in the fifth set.

Dayton's wins include #18 Pepperdine (3-1) and #21 Illinois (3-0). The Flyers' senior outside hitter Rachel Krabacher leads the Atlantic 10 in kills with 4.64 per set, and freshman libero Janna Krafka is third in the league with 4.54 digs per set. Junior middle blocker Megan Campbell is the current A-10 Offensive Player of the Week after averaging 3.86 kills per set in wins over Saint Louis and Butler, along with hitting .635.

Kelly Sheffield is in his fifth season as head coach at Dayton, and was named the 2010 and 2011 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year as well as the 2010 AVCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year. Dayton has won the last three A-10 regular season titles as well as the last three A-10 Tournament titles.

Both Xavier and Dayton have been among the A-10's top teams for a number of years, and the Owls have not had a win against either one since 2005. That season, Temple defeated Xavier both at home (3-2) and in the A-10 Tournament (3-1). All-time, Xavier leads Temple, 21-17.

The Owls' last win over Dayton came in 2004. All-time, Dayton leads the series 20-16.

Be sure to follow Temple volleyball on Facebook (facebook.com/TempleVolleyball). You can also get all Temple athletics' latest news by following the Owls on Twitter (@Owlsports_com) and Facebook (facebook.com/TempleAthletics). The official Temple Athletics website at OwlSports.com has a dedicated volleyball page with roster, schedule, statistics, media guide, photo galleries, news and more.
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