LDVB launches 2019 campaign with annual junior high camp
By TJ MAXWELL
The 2019 Copperas Cove Lady Dawg Volleyball season officially begins next week but the unofficial kick off began on Monday with the annual LDVB camp for students entering grades 7-9 and concluded yesterday with the official team tryouts.
“It’s been great,” said Copperas Cove head volleyball coach Cari Lowery. “I’ve seen tremendous improvement. We’ve had right at about 100 kids total and they have worked hard.”
Lowery changed the format of the camp slightly to a more tryout-like atmosphere and, with losing eight players from last year’s roster - including five players that were a major part of the rotation and another that was injured early on, the change of format couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We’ve ran it like a pre-tryout and not necessarily like a little kids’ camp like they’ve been accustomed to in the past,” said Lowery at the conclusion of Wednesday’s camp. “I’ve been really proud of them. There is a lot of talent and potential. They’re just really coachable, very good attitudes, hard working.”
The change in the University Interscholastic League off-season rules also helped Lowery straighten the learning curve.
“We had summer pride this summer and the UIL has allowed us to coach them in volleyball for 30 minutes a day,” said Lowery. “I’ve never had that in my career and it’s awesome. We get two hours a week that you can divide how you want, Monday through Thursday. It’s been really helpful for us since we did graduate five players off that team, so it’s been very helpful to get to see those kids.”
Although height is not an advantage for this upcoming group, the balance definitely is, says Lowery.
“We’ve got a lot of defensive players because we don’t have any 6-foot-2 girls, but we have 14 hitters out of this freshman group alone,” she said. “It’s a pretty balanced group, which is nice and means the junior high coaches did a good job.”
Lowery added a handful of coaches to her staff including Zhanelle Geathers who will join her former University of Texas at Arlington teammate of former Lady Dawg Qiana Canete on the staff at S.C. Lee, along with fellow Div I player Tina Miller.
“I have three Division I players that will be coaching at Lee next year. New coach Zhanelle Geathers played with Q (Qiana Canete) at UTA and you have coach (Tina) Miller. To have those athletes that have played at that level come back and say yeah, that’s right…that’s what we need to be doing. It’s been very beneficial for the kids to hear that.”
Former Lady Dawg Anna Zigler, along with Michelle Mock and Victoria Cox will join the staff at Copperas Cove Junior High while Elyssa Benoit will act as coordinator at CCJH.
“That’s about as many new coaches I’ve had in years,” said Lowery. “We keep our coaches for a while, but we lost some coaches that went on to high school positions. The coaches that left, kind of left at the last minute so we were very fortunate to get some quality coaches that I think are going to contribute.”
Yesterday’s tryouts should go a long way to determining the makeup of the rosters when scrimmages commence on Monday afternoon and with the annual Meet the Lady Dawgs event set for 6 p.m. on Monday.
“What I need to see is some people separate themselves from the pack. I don’t know who’s going to be on the varsity right now. I’m still waiting for a few of them to separate themselves. To not just be a senior or the next one in line, but to say, ‘this is mine, I own it’. That’s going to happen. It’s been happening a little bit at a time, but (at tryouts) when it’s the real thing, I need to see them legitimately say, ’this is mine.’”
The first serve for the Lady Dawgs to open the 2019 season will be about 9:45 a.m. on Saturday when the Lady Dawgs open scrimmage action against Lorena at Bulldawg Gymnasium. The action continues with a match vs Academy at 11:15 a.m. and a battle against Burnet at noon. Meet the Lady Dawgs is set for 6 p.m. Monday.
The season officially begins with the Jason Landers Invitational in Austin set for August 8-10.