COPPERAS COVE — Most high school girls love to talk.
Copperas Cove’s volleyball players are no different, and their coach, Cari Lowery, is excited about all the chatter and the 20-6 start to the season.
In their nondistrict finale Tuesday, the Lady Bulldawgs easily earned a 25-6, 25-11, 25-2 against Elgin, extending their win streak to seven matches.
“Our talking on the floor (is one of the biggest improvements),” Lowery said. “They are coming together as a team. It is like all those little pieces of the puzzle fit together, and they are working together like one person. They are working as a unit.”
Middle blocker Qiana Canete agreed, but admitted the conversations don’t always remain within the team.
“On the court, we kind of yell, and we tell the other team what is going on, so they get intimidated a little,” the junior said. “We all talk a lot outside the game, so I think it is good that we all put it into the game.”
Canete recorded a team-high nine kills to go with three blocks as Cove defeated Elgin in its final match before opening District 8-5A play Friday against Ellison.
The Lady Dawgs were never threatened as they cruised to victory, winning the final 16 points of the third set. Less than a week ago, however, things were not so simple.
At the Volleypalooza tournament in Leander, Copperas Cove faced Elgin (1-18 overall) and won 25-10, 25-18. Although the outcomes were the same, the improvement from one encounter to the next was significant, according to Lowery.
“It appeared easy, and when it is right, it is suppose to appear easy, but we played them last week and it was a much closer game,” she said. “I’m pleased with the way the girls have improved over the last few games, and we controlled (tonight’s) match.”
Outside hitter Brittney Johnson tied Canete with nine kills and also let the Lady Bulldawgs with 18 digs. Senior libero Jessica Vick finished with 17 digs and tied sophomore Mikayla Blount for team-high honors with three aces. Blount led the team with 14 assists.
The Volleypalooza tournament also served as a turning point in the team’s season. In the opening match against Corpus Christi Carroll, the Lady Bulldawgs held a 23-18 advantage in the deciding set, but lost the next seven points and the match.
“That kind of broke our spirit,” Lowery said of her team, which lost its following two matches as well. “We were just confused about how we could play so good and we didn’t finish. We were disappointed and (mentally) tired.
“We talked about it and came back, and they played the six best games they’ve played all year.”
The result was a Silver Division championship, but, more importantly, the turnaround generated a new level of determination within the players.
“They wanted it whether I wanted it or not,” Lowery said. “A lot of times, a coach wants something, but if the kids don’t want it for themselves, it doesn’t matter.
“These kids want it bad, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”
Now, Copperas Cove turns its attention toward winning a district championship
“Winning is going to mean a lot more,” Canete said of the upcoming district schedule. “It is going to be more exciting.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org