COPPERAS COVE — Mikayla Blount and Bryaunea Hall were in sync.
On numerous occasions Tuesday, Blount set up Hall for momentum-swinging kills as the pair of varsity newcomers helped Copperas Cove defeat Austin McCallum in straight sets.
Lady Bulldawgs head coach Cari Lowery knew the two were capable of developing into a strong tandem, but she did not expect it would happen so quickly.
“It is exciting because basically they are both sophomores on the court,” Lowery said. “This is just Bryaunea’s second year to play even though she is a junior, and Mikayla is a sophomore, and it is both of their first years on varsity.
“Their timing was really good tonight. Mikayla got some little quick jump sets, and Bryaunea was right there.”
Although the pair is just beginning their varsity careers, they have plenty of experience playing with each other.
“Last year, we were on JV together, so we are really good at working together,” Hall said. “At first, it was kind of hard (adjusting to varsity-level competition) because I wasn’t use to working as hard and playing better teams.
“You have to work really hard for it, but, at the end of the day, it comes out to a great outcome.”
Hall finished with seven kills and two blocks, while Blount posted a team-high 21 assists in the Lady Dawgs 25-17, 15-8, 25-19 victory against the Knights.
In the opening game, Cove (13-3) found itself tied with McCallum 13-13 before the Lady Dawgs went on a 12-4 run, punctuated by three consecutive points from Blount and Hall. Blount recorded a kill to give Cove a 23-17 advantage and Hall clinched the set on consecutive points with a scoring block followed by a kill.
With momentum on their side, the Lady Dawgs opened the second set with a 10-0 outburst before scoring 10 more unanswered points to take a commanding 22-5 lead. Cove held a slim lead, 15-14, in the third set before embarking on another long run, this time using an 8-2 run to virtually secure the victory.
“(Big runs) are always important,” Lowery said. “We have to learn to take advantage of those runs and capitalize on the other team’s mistakes and not let one of our mistakes turn into two or three.”
Many of the scoring streaks occurred while senior Jessica Vick was serving. The libero finished with five aces.
Defensively, the Lady Dawgs had three players post double-digit digs and almost added a fourth.
Brittney Johnson and Destiny Henderson finished with 13 digs apiece, while Arielle Garcia added 10 and Qiana Canete had nine. Canete also produced a block and a team-high 10 kills, while Johnson had eight kills and Garcia was responsible for 17 assists.
Despite the outcome, Lowery knows her team still has some things to improve on before District 8-5A play opens in just over a week.
“(We had) moments of greatness, but there are still some little technical issues we’ve got to fix,” Lowery said. “I’m looking forward to when tournaments are over this weekend because we will be on a regular schedule and have a little bit of practice.”
But she will not have much time to work with.
The Bulldawgs compete at a tournament in Leander beginning Thursday before facing Elgin in their nondistrict finale Tuesday. Copperas Cove opens district play at Ellison on Sept. 7.