LDVB improves to 18-13; open 12-6A play tonight at Temple

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

Ready or not, here it comes.
The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs volleyball team closed out their non-district schedule of 31 games in 27 days with a double-header against McGregor and Cameron Yoe Tuesday at Bulldawg Gymnasium. They now set their sights on returning to the top of District 12-6A and make their 17th trip to the postseason after an unusual third-place finish last year.
“It’s there… it’s happening,” Copperas Cove head volleyball coach and girls’ coordinator Cari Lowery said about where her team is heading into District 12-6A play. “We’re trying to play every type of team that we possibly could play to see every kind of look and I think we’re ready.”
After an up-and-down start to the season, the Lady Dawgs are beginning to find their groove, winning nine of their last 12 matches, including sweeping Tuesday’s action against the Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Yoe.
In the late game of the double-header, The Lady Dawgs earned a 3-0 sweep (25-9, 25-17, 25-19) of the Lady Yoe.
A couple early errors by the Lady Dawgs and a strong kill by Ainsley Driska allowed the Lady Yoe to open the match with a 3-1 lead.
Cove answered with a kill and two aces by senior Kyra Gaston to take their first lead of the match 7-5 before a kill and two blocks by senior Jamesia Moody, along with another Gaston ace quickly pushed the Lady Dawgs’ lead to six, 11-5. 
A pass out of bounds by Cove stalled the momentum temporarily until kills by senior Jiya Edwards and sophomore Larissa Perez pushed Cove’s lead to eight, 14-6.
Another block and kill by Moody helped push Cove’s lead to 12, 20-8, before a dump by Gaston to the open floor gave the Lady Dawgs their largest lead of the match, 22-8.
A kill by Cameron’s Lauren Harris kept the match alive before kills by Cove’s Gaston and Edwards made it set point and a hit into the net by the Lady Yoe closed the set 25-9 for a 1-0 Cove lead.
The Lady Yoe again took an early advantage to begin game two. After winning a long rally point to start the set, a kill by Haley Tucker and an ace by Harris gave the Lady Yoe a 4-0 lead.
A few Cameron miscues, along with another push shot by Gaston and a block by freshman Chloe Tuiasosopo, helped the Lady dawgs take the 5-4 lead before consecutive kills by Driska knotted the match at 6-all.
Cove responded with a kills by Gaston and Tuiasosopo and an ace by Perez for a 9-6 lead.
A few points later, Cove’s Gaston answers a kill by Cameron’s Jassa Florez with one of her own for a 12=8 score. 
A kill and a block by Cove junior Ashanti Wright helped the Lady Dawgs grow their lead to 16-10 before kills by Tucker and Harris helped Cameron narrow the lead to three, 16-13.
Kills by Tucker and Driska helped the Lady Yoe maintain that three-point deficit until kills by Gaston and Tuiasosopo kicked off a 5-0 Cove run with a block by Gaston concluding the run.
A dump on the second shot by Cameron’s Tucker kept the match alive before a two-touch by the Lady Yoe ended the match 25-17 and gave Cove a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third and final set, it was the Lady Dawgs getting an early 5-1 edge edge and Cameron providing the rally with kills by Driska and Sydni Smith, another push shot by Tucker and a block by Smith to help narrow the Cove lead to two, 10-8.
A rally point brought the Lady Yoe within a point, 11-10, before a Cove rally point and two Gaston kills helped Cove grow their lead to five, 16-11. 
“We kind of lost our focus a little bit because the game was so much slower,” said Lowery. “Then you start taking things for granted because it’s so much slower you underestimate people and you can’t underestimate anybody. There are different kinds of volleyball, so we had to get refocused on that.”
Kills by Driska and Tucker and an ace by Driska helped narrow the lead back to three, 17-14.
Kills by Edwards and Wright along with a block by Tuiasosopo and Moody pushed Cove’s lead back to five, 21-16.
A kill by Perez and a service point by senior Emma Wasiak gave the Lady Dawgs match point 24-18.
A kill by Driska staved off the win briefly, but a Lady Yoe serve out wide ended the set 25-19 and match 3-0.
“We’ve been playing teams that run so fast and this was slower, so it’s a different look,” said Lowery. “I’ll told them if Cameron starts passing they’re a whole different team than what you’ve seen and they started passing. Cameron is very scrappy. They’re a good team and they’ve got some big girls.”
Gaston led the Lady Dawgs with 10 kills, followed by Edwards (4) Wright (4), Perez (3), Moody (3), and Tuiasosopo (2). Gaston also lead in aces with three and blocks with four.
Junior Jakhi Smith led the offense with 21 assists while junior Alanna Hairston chipped in five. Smith and Perez also added one ace each.
Moody and Tuiasosopo added three blocks each while Wright added one.
Leading Cove’s back-row defense were Wasiak and Edwards with 13 digs each with Perez (7), Smith (4), Tuiasosopo (3), junior Leila Cooks (2), Hairston (2), and Gaston (1). Wasiak also in serves received with 19, followed by Edwards (8), Perez (4) and Moody (2).
In the opener, the Lady Dawgs also brought out the brooms with a 3-0 (25-5, 25-12, 25-9) win over McGregor.
Edwards led the way in kills in that match with 12, followed by Gaston (5), Moody (4), Perez (4) and Tuiasosopo (2). Smith again led in assists with 26 with Hairston adding one.
Perez, Gaston and Wasiak each notched two service aces while Smith and Cooks added one each.
Gaston again led in blocks with four, followed by Moody (3), Edwards (2), and one each from Wright and Smith.
Perez led the back-row defense with 17 digs, followed by Wasiak (11), Edwards (9), Smith (6), Cooks (5), senior Leeann Edmonds (5), and Gaston (4).
Wasiak led in serves received with 10, followed by Edwards (8), Perez (2), Edmond (1), and Cooks (1).
The Lady Dawgs travel to Temple to take on the TemCats in the District 12-6A opener before heading to Killeen to face the Ellison Lady Eagles on Tuesday. The Lady Dawgs return home to face Harker Heights next Friday. 
“We are still making some freshman or sophomore mistakes, just experience mistakes when they’ve been going fast, fast, fast and now, slow down,” said Lowery. “We’re going to talk about it and watch film and get ready for what’s coming Friday.”
 

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