Cove Lady Dawgs dominate Temple Wildcats in 12-6A opener

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

It took a bit for the no. 8 ranked (Texas Girls Coaches Association) Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs to find their groove in their first home contest of the season and the District 12-6A opener against the Temple Wildcats.
While the Lady Dawgs were putting the lights out on the TemCats, an 18-wheeler clipped a power line on U.S. Business 190 causing the power in the gym to flicker and the air conditioning to stop working briefly.
The power then returned to normal as did the Lady Dawgs’ dominance.
“You could tell they were nervous,” said Copperas Cove head volleyball coach Cari Lowery. “We haven’t been at home this year. This is really not a home-court advantage for us at this point and then the lights were going in and out, so crazy things. Once they started playing, they played.
“A win is a win and we’ll take it. To be playing district in August, we’ll take it however it comes.” 
The slow start quickly transitioned into 34-consecutive points on their way to dominating sweep of the Temple (25-10, 25-3, 25-16) Tuesday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium. 
The Lady Dawgs fell behind 1-3 in the first set before grinding their way back into the set. The two teams battled to five ties on the way to 10-10 tie. The Lady Dawgs then scored 15 unanswered points to close out the set 25-10.
“We didn’t exactly play our game,” said Lowery. “We didn’t pass very well, and we slowed down in game three because game two went so quickly. We can’t do that because we’re not just playing for right now, we’re playing for a month from now or two months from now. That’s what we’ve got to work on.”
Kills by seniors Jada Close, Aidan Chace and Christina Pettigrew helped the Lady Dawgs climb back into the set before three of Close’s team-high eight blocks along with kills by Close and junior Janice Fa’aola closed out the first set and set the tone for the rest of the match as part of a 34-point run. 
“She had a good night tonight and I’m very pleased with her,” Lowery said of Close. “She’s exciting to watch play. She’s fun because she gets so excited about it. I thought she did a great job out there tonight. I’m very pleased with that.”
Kills by Fa’aola, Chace and Close along with an ace by senior Kristen Wasiak helped the Lady Dawgs jump out to a 19-0 lead in set two before the TemCats ended the 34-point drought. 
Two service errors by Cove allowed the other two Temple points in the dominant 25-3 game. A kill and a pair of dumps by Pettigrew ended the set.
“It’s easy to look at a score and say, ‘oh they just served it out,’ but that’s not what happened,” said Lowery. “It makes it harder to come back in game three when you do that because they are just kids.”
“It’s really relaxing to know that everyone is going to do their jobs,” Close said about having so many offensive weapons. “We’ve been playing together for a year so it’s calming to know that if I don’t get it done then Aidan will, or Leah will or Janice will.”
The TemCats showed fight in the final set matching Cove point for point until a kill and a block by junior Leah Powell and two more kills by Chace opened up a 16-10 lead. 
A kill by Temple senior Julianna Torres cut the Cove lead back to five, 17-12, before kills by Powell, Pettigrew and Fa’aola gave Cove match point at 24-15. Junior Jaela Rice closed out the set and match with a kill.
Chace and Fa’aola led the Cove offensive attack with nine kills each, followed by Powell with six and Close with five. Pettigrew followed Close’s game-high eight blocks with four of her own. Senior Kamryn Ash had 20 assists to lead the team with Chace adding 14. Wasiak led the back-row defense with 18 digs followed by Powell’s 12. Close and Wasiak also chipped in a pair of aces each.
Lowery liked what she saw from her team but knows there is still room to grow before District 12-6A play resumes at home against Ellison on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
“We always have improvements to make and we’ve had two practices basically and those two practices have kind of been recovery time,” she said. “There are things to work for sure.”
The Lady Dawgs (19-1 overall, 1-0 in District 12-6A) have one last opportunity to hone those skills at Leander’s annual Volleypalooza tournament that began on Thursday.
The TemCats (9-12, 0-1) will host Bryan Rudder on Tuesday.

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