Teamwork and assists paved the way for the Temple Owls in the Big Five tournament this weekend. As co-hosts with Penn, the Owls were able to win one game on their home court, and one in Penn’s Palestra as part of the Big Five Challenge tournament.
Temple was coming off of three straight wins in the Cherry and White Challenge the weekend prior, and used that momentum in this tournament.
On Friday night, Temple came out strong against La Salle winning the first set 25-7. They would go on to sweep La Salle.
Transitioning to Saturday morning on their own court, Temple hosted Penn, and were able to sweep them as well in three matches to zero. Senior Sandra Sydlik set up her teammates for success with 34 assists.
Plenty of those assists were to Irem Asci who had 15 kills, the most kills between both teams. While offense did seem to be key, defense proved to be a large factor, and keeping Penn off of the board made it easier for the offense to function. Kirsten Overton and Izzy Rapacz combined for 10 blocks. Janine Simmons was also able to tack on three for the team.
Penn’s closest margin at the end of each set was five, and Temple did a good job making sure they didn’t score.
For their night game on Saturday, the Owls faced off against Villanova, who was also coming off of success from the tournament’s previous night.
Temple came out strong, winning the first set 20-25. They went on to lose the next three to ‘Nova, which ultimately lost them the match.
Again, the offense was facilitated through Sydlik who had 47 assists in this last matchup of the Big Five tournament. Assists proved to be a great part of the offense again. Temple’s leads went along with ball movement, as they were up 22-17 in the first set when they were also up 14-7 in assists.
Despite losing three straight sets to Villanova, it was clear that the Owls weren’t in any way inferior to the Wildcats, and clear that they were unwilling to give up when the Wildcats did grab a lead.
In the third set when the Owls found themselves down by five points, they fought back cutting the lead to just 24-23, but still ended up losing the set. In the final set of the evening, Villanova appeared to be running away with a 10-2 lead, but Temple fought back to cut the lead to four, and force a Villanova timeout so that the Wildcats could regroup. Temple kept coming at ‘Nova, and eventually took the lead, despite ultimately losing the set.
Temple went 2-1 in the Big Five tournament and improves to 9-3 overall. Next up on the Owl’s schedule is the University of South Florida on Friday at 7 PM. This matchup opens up American Conference play for the Owls. USF is 2-9 overall this season.