Lady Dawg volleyball kicks off season with alumni game
By TJ MAXWELL
There is always a fervor when August rolls around along with the opening of the Lady Dawg volleyball season.
That fervor is more like a frenzy this year, however, as nearly the entire roster from the undefeated district champion squad from last suits up for the 2018 campaign with a couple new additions.
Fans got their first look at the squad during the annual Meet the Lady Dawgs event and alumni scrimmage held Friday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
Copperas Cove head volleyball coach Cari Lowery knows that overconfidence can rear its ugly head if you’re not careful but she’s not that worried about that with this group of returnees.
“They’re not the kind of kids to be too confident,” she said. “They know we have things to work on and they have been working hard on summer in strength and conditioning. They are just real focused and mature kids and I’m really proud of them.
“I’m just excited about what they are capable of doing this year.”
The smaller than normal alumni squad showed they were not to be glossed over by challenging the Lady Dawg varsity squad to a competitive back and forth affair.
“We didn’t have as many alumni here this time because everyone that’s playing in college had to go back and one of our former players is getting married today and half of the team is in the wedding,” said Lowery. “If you looked at them before we started playing, it looked like they weren’t going to score a point, but it was very competitive. There are two girls that have played division I ball so you can never look past coach Tina Miller or coach Qiana Canete, both coaches at S.C. Lee Middle School.”
The Lady Dawg varsity got the edge when it was all said and done but strong plays by Canete and Miller kept the alumni close.
“I saw a lot of potential,” said Lowery. “There were moments in there. We are jumping well, even as sore and tired as we are, and we’ve got multiple offensive options. We’re going to try to change people into different positions and see where we are.”
Joining Miller and Canete on the alumni were 2009 grad Jennifer Miller, 2013 grad Jessica Vick, 2015 grad Savannah Cook, 2015 grad Shana Young and 2018 grad Addie Cook.
The Lady Dawgs return District 8-6A MVP senior Aidan Chace, Co-Defensive MVP senior Kristen Wasiak, Newcomer of the Year junior Leah Powell, First Team senior setter Kamryn Ash, Second Team senior Jada Close and Second Team senior Christina Pettigrew along with Honorable Mention junior hitter Janice Fa’aola and Honorable Mention senior defensive specialist Aviyon Wilborn and senior Jaela Rice.
“Really the only two new additions and both seniors,” said Lowery. “Alex Brito is coming in as a senior. I’m not sure if she’s going to be an outside or a right-side hitter. She was middle on JV. Mahal Thorpe was also a middle on JV and she may go to the right side as well.
“We’re still in the position of trying to fight for spots and see who steps up. It may be that way for a while because, when you get 48 hours to get ready for your season, they are still stiff and sore. I could see a little stiffness in them tonight and a little slower movement getting on and off where they needed to.”
Cove lost First Team hitter Talia Kinslow and Addison Cook to graduation and they will plug in Brito and Thorpe in those vacant roster spots.
The Lady Dawgs got back to action on Saturday with some home scrimmages before travelling to Bastrop for a scrimmage yesterday.
“I would like to see improvement,” Lowery said of her team’s four scrimmages in three days. “We missed five serves and I don’t like to miss a serve and we are also playing too short defensively.”
The Lady Dawgs officially open the season at the Austin Tournament Aug. 9-11 in Austin.