No. 24 Lady Dawgs keep pedal to the floor in sweep of Killeen
By TJ MAXWELL
Copperas Cove juniors Aidan Chace, Aviyon Wilborn and Jada Close; along with senior Talia Kinslow; have seen their fare share of big games against top-ranked opponents and continue to elevate their games as a result.
A youthful explosion has added to that firepower and turned the Lady Dawgs into a legitimate contender.
First year varsity players - junior Kamryn Ash, junior Kristen Wasiak, junior Christina Pettigrew and sophomore Janice Fa’aola – along with returning sophomore Leah Powell have added some quickness and explosiveness to the Lady Dawgs on the 11-game win streak that has them leading District 8-6A and ranked in the state’s Top 25.
The newcomers had a big impact in Tuesday’s home win over the Killeen Lady Kangaroos to start the second round of district action.
Ash dealt out 25 assists to lead the Cove offense while Leah Powell and Wasiak led the defense with 17 and 10 digs, respectively.
“Kamryn is a great setter and she has great hands,” said Lowery. We’ve had to make some adjustments and fix some things but she has been very coachable. Your setter makes or breaks you. We can be average and have great setters and it changes everything. Kamryn moves the game really quickly. It’s a much faster offense when she’s got her hands up high and she’s jumping. I think she’s getting more and more confident.
Fa’aola added a second-best six kills to Chace’s game-high 14 while Pettigrew led the team in blocks with five in the quick three-setter that lasted just under an hour.
“Leah and Janice are getting more confident,” said Lowery. “There have been tears but they are just sophomores. How exciting is that?
“Janice had some big kills and Leah is so quick and she elevates. They are both completely different but really pretty to watch.”
The No. 24-ranked (Texas Girls’ Coaches Association) Lady Dawgs improved their record to 32-8, 7-0 in District 8-6A with a sweep of Killeen (25-2, 25-6, 25-14) Tuesday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
Cove went virtually unchallenged thought the first two sets, only surrendering eight total points between the two but they took their foot off the gas a little in the final set.
“In game one and two, what more could you ask for,” said head coach Cari Lowery. “In game three, we exhaled a little bit and made some not moving mistakes but that’s just going to happen.
“We can’t expect to beat them 25-4 for three games because Killeen has athletes.”
Ash served 11-consecutive points to get Cove started on the right foot with an 11-0 lead to begin the match against the Roos. Kills by Chace and an ace by Ash paced Cove in the run.
Cove then finished the set with the same 11-0 run to take the first set 25-2 with Powell notching 11-straight service points.
Three kills each from Chace and Fa’aola and one by Pettigrew accounted for seven of Cove’s 11 points in the run.
The Lady Dawgs again took a dominant lead to begin set two, 13-2.
After Killeen took a 1-0 lead, kills and a block by Chace, a block by Pettigrew, an ace by senior Addie Cook and a kill by Powell pushed Cove ahead 13-2 before the first kill of the night for Killeen made it 13-3. Senior Alia Vines registered the kill for Killeen.
Three-consecutive hitting mistakes by Killeen and a big kill by Cove’s Fa’aola pushed the score to 17-3 before another Cove miscue made it 17-4.
Points by Kinslow, Fa’aola and Chace then pushed Cove to set point, 24-4, before a serve into the net and a hit out wide by Cove allowed two more Killeen points. A serve into the net by Killeen ended the set 25-6.
Cove raced out to anther lopsided lead to begin the final set 10-2 before allowing the Lady Roos to inch back in the contest with a 7-1 run.
Attacks by Chace and Powell and service points by Ash and Cook led Cove to the 10-2 lead.
A kill by Killeen junior Da’Via McIver and an ace by senior Marlen Rodriguez-Gomez helped Killen to a 5-0 run before a kill by Chace stifled the run.
Hitting errors by Killeen and a block kill by Pettigrew allowed Cove to extend their lead to five, 17-12, and a 6-0 Cove run gave the Lady Dawgs match point, 24-12.
Two Cove miscues kept the set alive briefly until a Chace kill on the Ash assist closed out the match.
“They feel very good about themselves but they also know you can’t feel too good,” Lowery said about her teams’ confidence level heading down the stretch. “You can’t think you’ve got it because you don’t have it. One loss could change everything for anyone in this district. We have to play every single game.”
Powell also added six kills to her game-high 17 digs. Wilborn also added nine digs for the Cove defense. Ash finished with a game-high four aces and Cook added two.
Lowery sees the growth that sparked this 11-game win streak.
“I think we‘re getting better all the time,” she said. “The difference is the confidence and maturity. With confidence comes being more aggressive and being able to bounce back if you make a mistake. Early on when they made a mistake, they would look at me with those big eyes like what did I do and you’re trying to fix it on the move. Now, they know what they’re doing wrong.
“I see us getting quicker. I see us getting stronger. Everybody is jumping through the ceiling and I see my defense getting more in sync with each other. We still have things to do. I want it to be perfect but it never will be. They want it to be perfect, too.”
The Cove junior varsity and freshman ‘A’ teams also earned sweeps over Killeen (25-5, 25-11) and (25-8, 25-16), respectively. Cove’s freshman ‘B’ team swept Hutto 25-19, 25-13.
The Lady Dawgs’ varsity gets back to action tonight at home against Ellison with a 5:30 p.m. first serve.