Cove Leader-Press

Cari Lowery, head volleyball coach for Copperas Cove and her Lady Dawgs’ squad found themselves in a rare spot on their home court on Tuesday – in a two-sets-to-one hole. “We have not had a home game and I think they were nervous, especially my young girls,” said Lowery. “You have your crowd here and the boys cheering and stuff and we were not focused off the bat. We made some mistakes early on that we have not made in a month. When you’re nervous, your mind is frozen and you revert back to the wrong way that you’ve done longer than the right way.” After falling in a against the No. 3 ranked Lorena Lady Leopards, the Lady Dawgs rallied with stiff defense, led by senior libero Bailey French, along with a powerful punch from the outside hitter positions, led by senior Jennifer Eubanks. “Games four and five looked more like us,” said Lowery. “I saw some bright spots and a couple people that are stepping up. (Lorena) is a great team. They’re ranked third in the state and only lost one game. We have to be prepared for the fact that people aren’t going to lay down. We should be (prepared) because we played a killer schedule all year long, but we almost had a week off.” The Lady Dawgs (22-9) dominated the final two sets 25-16, 15-7 to claim the victory and hand the Lady Leopards (25-2) their second loss of the season. Eubanks was getting masterful feeds from her setters, Katy Ranes and Kiarrah Carlisle, and putting them down with ferocity. Eubanks had nine of her team-high 21 kills in the final two sets. “Really the setters kept putting the set perfectly before I got the perfect kills,” said Eubanks. “When it all clicks it’s an adrenaline rush.” “She was a machine tonight,” said French about her senior outside hitter. “She had a great game. She was our ‘go-to’ tonight and she put it down when everyone needed her to. She’s a big gun on the outside.” Lowery likes what she saw from her senior so she made sure they kept going her way. “What I said was, ‘just keep getting the ball to her, they can’t touch her. Until they can do something about it, don’t stop,’” said Lowery. “They couldn’t touch her. She’s such an athlete and such a jumper and she’s still through the fourth quarter when the Lady Dawgs won a long rally on a kill by Megan Diaz that gave Cove a 13-9 lead. Diaz also led the Lady Dawgs in blocks with eight (five solo), including a pair of back-to-back blocks by her and senior Raeven Dickerson that helped set the tone early in the fourth set. The Lady Dawgs reeled off a 12-6 run to close the game and knot the match at 2-all. Kills by junior Chyanne Chapman, Dickerson and Eubanks paced Cove in the run and a big block by Ranes put the set away 25-16. It was all Cove in the final set. Four Ranes sets resulted in a kill by Eubanks and three more by Dickerson as part of a quick 6-1 run with the only Lorena point coming off a Cove hitting error. Strong kills by Lorena’s big hitter, Holmes, stopped the run temporarily but two hug kills by Eubanks put an exclamation point on the set and match. “I think the tougher the games, the better it will make us,” Eubanks said about the win over a state-ranked Lorena squad. “We don’t want easy games. We want to be challenged so when it comes to (the playoffs) we can push through and be ready.” French was all over the court defensively for the Lady Dawgs, gobbling up 48 digs in the five-set thriller. Stepping in to fill the role of allstate libero Lexi Perez is no easy task but French is up for the challenge. “I know I have to step it up,” she said. “It’s where I strive to be. I get pushed by coach Lowery all the time and I strive for perfection because of her and the shoes I need to fill. I’m just working hard and when I make a mistake, I fix it – or attempt to. I think about it, get back in the game and fix it and dig anything that I can. You’ve got to lay everything on the floor and I work hard to do that.” “Bailey is coming,” said Lowery. “She was nervous tonight too but she’s getting better all the time and that’s all we can ask. She’s very coachable. She’s very hard on herself so sometimes she doesn’t let go of a mistake and see what’s coming but we’re working on that.” The Lady Dawgs came out of the gates a little slow, edging the Lady Leopards 25-21 in the first set after trailing by as many as five points early. Both teams battled back and forth in set two with three lead changes and four ties but big kills by Holmes led the way down the stretch for the Lady Leopards as they edged Cove 25-22. The Lady Dawgs took control of set two three early, leading by as much as five, 15-10. Four Cove errors on the next five points helped Lorena to a 12-4 run to take a 22-19 lead. Kills by Eubanks and Dickerson kept Cove in the game, forcing a tie at 24-all and a kill by Loran’s Holmes and Cove’s Brianna Acker knotted the game a 25-all before a kill by Holmes and a hitting error by Dickerson gave Lorena a 2-1 lead. Along with Eubanks’ 21 kills and Dickerson’s 16, Chapman and Acker chipped in seven each to lead the Lady Dawgs. Junior Madison Wasiak added 24 kills to French’s game-high 48, Carlisle added 17 and Aniessa Vega had 11 for Cove. Ranes led in assists with 38 and Carlisle contributed 26 more. Chapman added five solo blocks to Diaz’s eight total and Dickerson had five (three solo) to lead the Lady Dawgs. Carlisle also added three aces with Chapman and Vega following with two each. Lorena was led by Holmes with 20 kills. The Lady Dawgs have one more tough non-district tilt this Saturday at 1 p.m. against Robinson, ranked 9th in Class 4A, before kicking off a tough district schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at home against Ellison. “The goal is to prepare us for district and what comes after and so we played as hard as we possibly could to prepare for that,” said Lowery. French knows this is the Lady Dawgs’ final dress rehearsal before district so they need to be sharp. “We need to start strong and play strong the whole game. We can’t have a rocky start. We just need to start strong like we know how to.” Eubanks agreed. “We want a win. We didn’t play up to our full potential tonight and not everything was clicking, but Saturday is the day where everything can click and we’ll be ready for district.” French is confident they are ready for a strong run in District 12-6A play. “I feel pretty strong and confident in us,” she said. “We pull it together when we need to and we’re going to show up to play no matter what.”

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207