LDVB firmly back in hunt with 6th-straight win
By TJ MAXWELL
A sweep by Copperas Cove over Harker Heights, paired with a sweep of Ellison over Belton, put the Lady Dawgs in a tie for second place with the Lady Tigers in the District 12-6A race at 9-2 behind frontrunner Midway (10-0) who comes to town tonight.
The Lady Dawgs looked a bit more polished with a few less self-inflicted wounds in their 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-10) sweep of the Lady Knights Tuesday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium than then did last Tuesday against Shoemaker in a 3-1 (25-27, 25-18, 26-24, 25-19) win.
“I thought that was great, especially in game one and game three,” said Copperas Cove head volleyball coach Cari Lowery. “In game two we let down a little bit. We gave up too many points in a row with a little bit of miscommunication or whatever, but it’s always harder playing someone in the second round that you beat pretty handily in the first round so I’m proud of that.”
Kills by seniors Janice Fa’aola and Leah Powell and an ace by Fa’aola helped the Lady jump out to an 8-2 lead in the first game against the Lady Knights.
Kills by Harker Heights juniors Rose Lopez and Tamia Tidline helped the Lady Knights narrow the lead to five, 10-5, before the Lady Dawgs embarked on an 8-1 run to take a commanding 18-6 lead.
A kill to close a long rally by junior Sydney Seldon and a block by junior Catherine Bakken briefly halted the Cove run and cut the lead to eight, 20-12.
A combination block by sophomore Kyra Gaston and Powell gave Cove game-point and a dump by senior Sam Ingram closed the game 25-13.
The Lady Dawgs again had a quick start in game two with two kills, a block and an ace by Powell leading Cove to a 9-3 early advantage.
The Lady Knights responded with a 9-2 run to take their first lead of the night at 11-12. A back row kill by senior Janae Bague; along with kills by sophomore Kyana Burney, Bakken and Seldon; led the way for the Lady Knights.
A kill by Fa’aola knotted the game at 12-all and opened an 11-3 run by the Lady Dawgs for a 22-15 lead. A kill down the line by Ingram made it 14-13 after passing errors by both squads. Kills by Powell, Gaston and Fa’aola; along with blocks by Ingram and Gaston fueled the Cove run.
A kill by Gaston helped Cove earn game point and a block by Fa’aola put the game away 25-16.
The Lady Dawgs again jumped on the Lady Knights early in the third and final set and never let up in a 25-10 win.
Kills by Fa’aola and Ingram helped the Lady Dawgs build a 6-0 lead prompting a Harker Heights timeout.
A pair of dumps by Heights’ senior setter Catherine Iosefo made it an 8-3 game before an 8-0 Cove run opened their lead to 16-3. Kills by Powell and junior Larissa Melendez led the way for Cove.
Kills by Tidline and Burney helped the Lady Knights narrow the deficit by three at 20-7 but kills by Fa’aola and Melendez and a push out of bounds by Heights made it match point at 24-9.
A kill by Bakken prolonged the match for one play but the game-high 15th kill by Fa’aola closed the game 25-10 and the match 3-0.
“Game three we handled cleanly,” said Lowery. There was some good game. Larissa Melendez again played a great game. That’s always good news when some of those kids that aren’t getting the big kills can come in and get some big plays. She’s getting smarter by the minute and Kyra (Gaston) is getting smarter. (Kyra is) going to be my best project ever by the time she’s a senior.”
Powell finished with 10 kills to follow Fa’aola while Ingram added five and Melendez had three. Ingram had 23 assists to lead the offense with junior Emily Vanderpoel adding eight.
Gaston led the front-line defense with seven blocks followed by Powell (6). Sophomore Emma Wasiak led in digs with 21 followed by Fa’aola (11) and Powell) (9).
The Lady Dawgs (27-11, 9-2 in District 12-6A) are back to the part of the schedule they struggled with in the first round with back-to-back losses to Midway and Belton.
Lowery and her squad hope to overcome the self-inflicted wounds from the their only wo district losses when the Pantherettes and Lady Tigers come to Bulldawg Gymnasium tonight and Tuesday, respectfully.
“When we lost earlier in the season to Belton, we came in on Saturday and we ran and we worked hard,” said Lowery. You want to be mad at them, but every single one of them came in and said, ‘thanks for working us so hard coach Lowery because that’s going to make us better.’ They want to work hard. They want to get better. They know when they’re not playing how they’re supposed to be playing. They know what they’re capable of because they work hard every single day. When they don’t perform like they are supposed to, they know it. I don’t have to say anything. Not that I don’t, but I don’t need to.
“They know what mistakes they made tonight. They knew it as it was happening. Some of them we recovered from but some we couldn’t recover in time. The idea is to get better every time you step on the court for practice or for the game and I feel like we did.”
That avengement starts tonight at 5:30 p.m. when Midway comes to town.
“We’ve got to play our game,” said Lowery. “We did not play our game. We played poorly and we still took them to four games, and we were in every single game. We played nervous. That was the first really big game for my new setters, my younger middle and my young libero and we made some mistakes we don’t typically make. We’ve got to fix those mistakes.
“We’ve got to play our best and everybody has got to show up. We’re not a team that can depend on one or two people. Everybody has to do their job.”