LDVB opens season with 3-1 loss to Top 20 ranked Liberty Hill Lady Panthers
By TJ MAXWELL
The young and inexperienced Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs volleyball team ran into a bit of a buzzsaw to open the COVID-19 delayed 2020 season when they hosted the Class 5A Top 20 Liberty Hill Lady Panthers Tuesday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
The Lady Dawgs, with just four players that saw significant playing time a year ago (seniors Larissa Melendez, Emily Venderpoel, Emma Wasiak and junior Kyra Gaston), started off strong but were unable to close out the match in the 3-1 loss to the Lady Panthers.
Copperas Cove looked to be on their way to early control when an attack by senior Larissa Melendez, along with blocks by junior Kyra Gaston sophomore Aaliyah Butler, put the Lady Dawgs on top 5-1.
Liberty Hill had different plans, however, as they answered with a 9-2 run with kills juniors Emma Becker and Ailie Hair and senior Lillie Wilkins to take a 10-7 lead.
A block by senior Jasmine Davis, along with kills by Davis and Melendez, helped the Lady Dawgs knot the set at 13-all before a kill by Gaston put Cove back in control 14-13.
A kill by Hair and an ace by sophomore Kaileigh Truslow flipped the lead back to the Lady Panthers, 15-14.
The Lady Dawgs got an ace of their own by senior Jae Rogers to begin a 5-1 run to give Cove a 20-16 lead.
Kills by Liberty Hill senior Kindsee Escamilla and Wilkins helped the Lady Panthers pull within a point, 21-20, but a kill by Davis on the assist by senior setter Emily Vanderpoel helped the Lady Dawgs close the set 25-21 to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
A kill by Truslow and some miscues by the Lady Dawgs allowed the Lady Panthers to jump out to a 9-1 lead.
A kill by Cove’s Melendez slowed the Liberty Hill momentum briefly but blocks by Hair and Emma Becker along with kills by junior Maddi Rowley and Truslow helped extend the Lady Panthers lead to nine, 17-8.
A punch for a point by Davis and a kill by Melendez pulled Cove closer until kills by Truslow, Hair and Escamilla pushed the lead back to 10, 22-12.
A kill by junior Jiya Edwards, an ace by senior Emma Wasiak and another punch shot by Davis helped bring Cove back within five points, 24-19, but a kill by Emma Becker closed the set and knotted the match at 1-1.
More self-inflicted wounds by Cove helped Liberty Hill build a 12-6 lead in set three. Some Liberty Hill miscues and an attack point by Davis helped Cove pull within four, 12-8, but a pair of blocks by Emma Becker, Wilkins and Hair; kills by Becker, Wilkins Rowley; and an ace by Truslow made it an 11-point Liberty Hill lead, 21-10. A kill by Melendez kept the set alive briefly but a defensive swat by Hair closed the set 25-11.
Both teams exchanged kills early in the fourth and final set before exchanging miscues for a 7-7 score before kills by Liberty Hill’s Wilkins and Escamilla broke the tie and started a 13-2 run for a 20-9 lead. A pair of aces by Truslow, kills by Emma Becker and another block by Becker led the way in the run for the Lady Panthers.
A pair of push shots by Melendez helped the Lady Dawgs keep the match alive, but a Liberty Hill push and a net violation against Cove closed the set 25-14 and match 3-1.
Davis and Melendez led the Lady Dawgs in kills with 11 each while Gaston had eight blocks to lead the category, followed by Edwards (4) and Butler (3).
Vanderpoel had 28 assists to lead Cove while Wasiak led in digs with 14, followed by senior Sydney Montana (11), Rogers (10) and junior Leeann Edmond (10).
Emma Becker led the Lady Panthers in kills with 10, followed by Hair (8), Wilkins (6), Truslow (5), Escamilla (2), senior Gabby Guerra (1) and junior Bailey Becker (1).
Truslow had eight aces to lead the category, followed by Wilkins (1). Emma Becker also led in blocks with three, followed by Hair (2) and Wilkins (1).
The Lady Dawgs return to action tonight at home against the China Spring Lady Cougars. The junior varsity begins things at 5:30 p.m. with the varsity to follow.