BUFFALO, N.Y. - The offense never quite clicked for Temple volleyball in the opening match of the 2013 season, as the Owls lost in three sets at Buffalo by scores of 25-17, 25-17 and 26-24. Temple will return to the court tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. against Niagara for its second and final match of the University of Buffalo Invite.
Sophomore Alyssa Drachslin made her first career start at the libero position and made the most of it, matching Buffalo's Kelly Svoboda with 20 digs on the night. Seniors Gabriella Matautia and Emily Carlin led the Owls offensively with eight kills apiece, while senior Elyse Burkert added six.
"Obviously we were hoping the outcome would be different," said Temple head coach Bakeer Ganes, "but it's always tough to play the first match. You never know where you stand. This helped us to see where we are and where we need to improve. We will have to improve in certain areas if we want to be competitive."
Despite the loss, Ganes feels encouraged about what he sees from the team so far, not just in the match but in the last few weeks of practice.
"We're moving in the right direction," he said. "This team has a lot of potential. It's probably the most talented team we've had since I've been at Temple. We just have to find a way to put things together so we can get better results. Everybody wants to win, but we were able to do some things tonight that give a good indication that we're going to be successful."
The Bulls' Tahleia Bishop provided most of Buffalo's offense, finishing with 20 kills. Bishop also hit a match-best .378 and recorded three of her team's nine blocks.
Buffalo put up a solid defensive effort at all the right moments, keeping the Owls from erasing an early first-set deficit. Temple was within two points at 16-14 after being down by as many as six, but could get no closer. The Bulls had three blocks in the first set while the Owls came up with none.
The blocking power of the Bulls continued in the second set, and after an early 8-8 tie, Buffalo went on to lead the rest of the way. Bishop, after recording four kills in the first set, went on to knock down nine more for the Bulls in the second set while committing only the rare error.
Defensively, Drachslin kept Temple in it for a number of rallies, but Svoboda was able to give her team plenty of chances for more offense as well.
After the break between the second and third sets, Temple looked like the more determined team back on the court. The Owls held a slim lead midway through, and the set later saw a total of seven ties as the two teams went back and forth down the stretch. Junior Jennifer Iacobini gave Temple a 22-21 lead with a kill, and a Buffalo error put the Owls ahead by two, 23-21.
Amber Hatchett and Bishop evened the score at 23-23 with back-to-back kills, but a big block by Iacboni and sophomore Sandra Sydlik gave Temple set point at 24-23. Unfortunately for the Owls, Bishop had one more kill left in her. With the score knotted at 24, Buffalo's Liz Scott put down a kill for match point and then teamed with Hatchett for a block to end Temple's night.
Matautia's positive takeaway from the match was the team's response after the first two sets. "I'm happy we didn't fold at the end," she said. "We were down two sets but we kept pushing. That shows how our team can respond and that's a great characteristic to have. We picked out our mistakes and showed improvement throughout. Hopefully tomorrow we just continue bettering our game, and then we can have a better outcome."