Lady Dawgs open 12-6A play with sweep over Lady Tigers
By TJ MAXWELL
The Lady Dawgs didn’t have their usual 20-plus games to prepare for Tuesday’s District 12-6A opener against the Belton Lady Tigers, but it didn’t seem to matter as they looked in top form during their 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-19) sweep over Belton at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
“We’re getting better every game,” said Copperas Cove head volleyball coach and girls’ coordinator Cari Lowery. “We’re not where we need to be, but our goal is to get better every game. We’re getting smarter. We’re getting more aggressive. We’re learning how to work together, which is typically the things that happen in tournament season. It just has to happen at a lot quicker pace. I’m pleased with that. We left a little bit right there in game three, but I think we controlled it from start to finish.”
Lowery is just excited to be on the court playing district contests.
“It feels good and we just want to keep playing as long as we can,” she said. It is not fun coaching in a mask. It’s not fun playing with it on, but we’re going to do everything we’re going to do to make sure that we can continue to play. That’s why we’re having senior night so early. We wanted to make sure that we appreciated our seniors in case something happened, and we don’t get to finish. We usually do it the last game of the year, but we wanted to do it early, so we make sure they know we love them.”
Big defensive plays helped the Lady Dawgs control the action through most of the contest.
“We’re aggressive, we’re quick and we’re scrappy,” said Lowery. Some of my teams, because we’re so technically sound, we’re not necessarily scrappy because we expect it to be right. I have to work a lot on my teams being scrappy because we work so much on making it perfect. This team could be a combination of all those things. They know they have to work for everything. We’re not tall, clearly, so we have to be a little more scrappy. We’re not going to be able to block a lot of balls, so we have to be able to dig them off the ground.”
It took a bit for both teams to get going in the first set with neither taking more than a four-point advantage early on.
That changed when a block each by Copperas Cove senior Jasmine Davis and junior Kyra Gaston and a kill by Davis helped open a six-point Cove lead.
Consecutive aces served up by sophomore Jakhi Smith, another Davis kill and an ace by senior Jae Rogers pushed the Lady Dawgs’ lead to 10, 22-12.
The Lady Tigers crawled a little closer, but big kills by Gaston and seniot Hope Chapman on the assists by Smith closed out the set 25-14.
Belton miscues and dominant play by Copperas Cove sparked a 12-0 run to open set two. A block by sophomore Aaliyah Butler, a pair of aces by senior Emily Vanderpoel, and kills by junior Jiya Edwards and senior Larissa Melendez fueled the run.
A block by Belton senior McKayla Seeliger and an ace by senior Isabel Holguin slowed the Lady Dawgs briefly, but kills by Davis, Melendez and Gaston pushed Cove’s lead to 11, 15-4.
The Lady Tigers maintained pace with kills by senior Campbell Burnett, junior MyKaela Johnston, Seeliger and senior Sydney Sell.
A kill by Melendez, a back row kill by senior Emma Wasiak and a kill by Davis gave the Lady Dawgs game point 24-13.
A kill by junior McKenna Maddux delayed the inevitable before a kill by Melendez closed the set 25-14 and put the Lady Dawgs up 2-0 in the match.
The Lady Tigers opened the third set with a 2-1 lead aided by a kill by Sell.
The Lady Dawgs answered with a 9-1 run to take a 10-3 lead. A pair of blocks by Gaston, a defensive swat by Davis and some Belton miscues led the way in the run.
A pair of kills by Belton’s Burnett pulled the Lady Tigers within five, 12-7, before kills by Melendez and Chapman pushed the Lady Dawgs’ lead eight, 16-8.
A kill by Edwards and a dump by Vanderpoel helped the Lady Dawgs to their largest lead of the set, 19-9.
Kills by Burnett and junior Emily Revis, along with a back row kill by Holguin helped Belton cut the Cove lead to six, 20-14.
The Lady Tigers pulled even closer with a dump by junior Kylie Blomquist, a kill by Burnett and an ace by Revis for a 21-17 score.
A kill by Davis and a block by Gaston pushed Cove within two points of the match before hitting errors by Belton closed the set 25-19 and match 3-0.
Melendez, Davis and Edwards each had seven kills to lead the Lady Dawgs’ attack. Gaston added four kills, followed by Chapman (3) and Wasiak (2).
Vanderpoel had 12 assists to lead the Lady Dawgs followed by Smith (5), Rogers (1) and Melendez (1).
Wasiak led the back-row defense with 15 digs and 17 serves received while Gaston led the front-row defense with nine blocks. Butler added five blocks followed by Melendez (2), Edwards (2) Davis (1) and Chapman (1).
Vanderpoel and Smith each had two aces to lead the Lady Dawgs.
Burnett had a game-high eight kills to lead the Lady Tigers followed by Sell (4), Holguin (3), Revis (2), Maddux (1), and Johnston (1).
Blomquist led in assists with nine followed by junior McKenzie Mansell (6). Seeliger led in blocks with three and Johnston added one.
Revis and Holguin each had one ace.
Holguin led in digs with nine while Mansell added six followed by Blomquist (4)
The Lady Dawgs will get back to action tonight at home against 12-6A newcomer Bryan. The varsity will open things up at 5:30 p.m. with the junior varsity to follow.
“We need to fix a few little mistakes I saw,” Lowery said of the matchup with Bryan. “We have to talk to each other a little bit better and we just have to keep getting better.”
The Lady Tigers host Ellison tonight.