Copperas Cove volleyballers recognized for historic season with 12-6A selections
By TJ MAXWELL
Ten Copperas Cove Lady Dawg volleyball players were recently recognized for their efforts in their record-breaking 41-win season.
Copperas Cove head volleyball coach Cari Lowery is proud of the legacy left by the eight seniors she’s losing from the 13 players on the playoff roster.
“Legacy is the word and we talk about that all the time,” said Lowery. “It’s not just about what you’re doing. It’s also about what you’re doing for the kids that are coming behind you. That’s what those juniors were in there talking to those seniors about (after their playoff loss to Prosper). They talked about what they did for the juniors and the program.
“There are a million memories with this group. It has been so fun. Every day they just came in ready to work. I never really had to pull or push to get them to go. Those are great memories because sometimes you really have to pull it out of them. Sometimes there are those hard days where you don’t want to be there, and they don’t want to be there and it’s clear, but I don’t remember any of those days.”
Three Lady Dawgs received superlatives with junior Leah Powell receiving the Most Valuable Hitter nod; along with Most Valuable Setter, senior Kamryn Ash and Most Valuable Blocker, senior Christina Pettigrew.
Powell finished tied for second on the team with 312 kills despite spending a lot of time in the defensive back. Powell also finished with a team-high 555 serves received and a second-best 463 digs for the Lady Dawgs.
Ash finished the season with 1,041 assists to lead the squad. The senior had just 37 ball-handling errors in 1,888 attempts. Ash also had a second-best 49 aces.
“Kamryn Ash is in the top three setters that I’ve had in my career and I’ve had multiple Division I setters,” said Lowery. “Great setters have great feet and she’s got them. Her potential is unlimited as well.”
Pettigrew led the team on blocks with 182, including 119 solo stuffs.
“Christina Pettigrew has only played volleyball for four years,” said Lowery. “I brought her in and talked to her about all she could be, and she is special. I have a list of colleges wanting her. She is so powerful and strong.”
Midway junior Reece Rhodes was named the district’s Most Valuable Player. Ellison senior Jaraysia Hope was named Defensive Player of the Year Belton junior Abbey Karcher was named Newcomer of the Year and Midway’s Ryan Porter was named Coach of the Year. Powell split the hitter accolades with Belton senior Kelsey Surovik while Ash split the Setter award with Belton junior Emily Holder and Ellison senior Jakarta Hope.
Senior Aidan Chace and junior Janice Fa’aola were named to the 12-6A First Team.
Chace led the squad in kills with 449 but was also integral in many other aspects. She had a second-best 420 assists, third-best 345 digs and third-best 128 blocks.
“Aidan Chace has tremendous potential and talent,” said Lowery. “I have been tough on her because she is the third of the Chaces and she came in with this potential. When she was in junior high, she was better than everyone else, so I had to be harder on her.”
Fa’aola finished with 312 kills to tie Powell for second.
Rounding out the First Team were Belton seniors Kamryn Madden and Madison Ward, Midway’s Shelby Saul and Hannah Langerman, Ellison’s junior Nasiyah Smith and senior Semira Fields, Shoemaker’s senior Alexia Wilkinson and junior Emiyah Spencer, Killeen senior Meagan Henderson; Harker Heights senior McKayla Flowers and Temple senior Juliana Torres.
Seniors Jada Close and Aviyon Wilborn were named to the 12-6A Second Team.
Close led the team in aces with 52. She was also second in blocks with 166 and fourth in kills with 210.
“Jada Close has grown up so much, just from last year, as an athlete and a young woman,” said Lowery.
Wilborn was second in serves received with 414 and fourth in digs with 320.
“Aviyon Wilborn is the unsung hero,” said Lowery. “She does so much that you don’t even see. I see it, but the average person doesn’t.”
Rounding out the Second Team were Waco’s junior Key’era Young, sophomore Keturah King and sophomore Anna Garcia-Orta; Belton’s senior Jaci Cauble and sophomore Isabel Holguin; Midway’s Kaitlyn Hankins and Hannah Miras; Shoemaker senior Nicole Pena; Killeen’s junior Rhepsey Wyman and sophomore Kaila Robinson; Harker Heights’ senior Samantha Dreibelbus and sophomore Sydney Seldon; Ellison’s junior Chyra Thompson and freshman Adelia Puni; and Temple’s senior Autumn Dowell and senior Mia Ward.
Injured senior Kristen Wasiak received an Honorable mention for her efforts through two-thirds of district play. She finished with a team-high 510 digs despite missing the last 31 sets played. She also finished second behind Powell in serves received with 475.
Juniors Jaela Rice and Sam Ingram also received Honorable Mention despite limited minutes.
Almost the entire roster was named to the Academic All-District list: Chace, Close, Pettigrew, Wasiak, Wilborn, Ash, Fa’aola, Powell, Rice, Ingram and junior newcomer Monique Alverao Zam-Zow were all named to the list.
The bi-district champion Lady Dawgs finished their historic run with a school record 41-4 final standings with a 12-2 district run with their loss to Regional finalists Prosper who was ousted by previously unranked Plano West before they were ousted in the state semifinals by Ridge Point. Ridge Point, ranked no. 3 heading into the playoffs was defeated in the title game by another previously unranked team in Lewisville Flower Mound.
Lowery is proud of her girls’ record-breaking season and will take a plethora of memories away from this season.
“I am so proud of them,” she said. “This is my 24th year as a head coach and this is one of my favorite teams. I’m trying not to get choked up talking about them. They are just so special. They are coachable, they are smart, and they are great kids.
“And just those fun wins and watching them play. I never sit down, but sometimes I just want to sit down and watch. It’s so pretty to watch them. They have such athleticism. I don’t think people realize how powerful the game of volleyball is and how hard those girls hit, what athletes they are, how much hang time, how quick they get up, how hard it is to change directions so quickly and how hard it is to get up the air then change your mind midstream. It’s very impressive. They make it look easy but it’s not. That’s why it is fun to watch because they make it look so easy.”