COPPERAS COVE — Everything was building to this point.
After rewriting the program’s record books and dominating District 8-5A for the past two seasons, Copperas Cove middle blocker Qiana Canete reached the culmination of her high school career Tuesday afternoon by signing a letter of intent to play for the University of Texas-Arlington.
Although the signing ceremony at Bulldawg Gymnasium was over in a matter of minutes, it was exactly what the senior spent countless hours preparing for.
“I feel very successful,” Canete said. “I feel like all this work that I’ve done throughout the years has really paid off. I’ve been striving for this moment for a really long time.”
Canete departs for the Division I program as one of the Lady Bulldawgs’ most decorated athletes. As a sophomore she was named the district’s newcomer of the year before repeating as district MVP in both her junior and senior seasons.
Along the way, Canete’s teams amassed an overall record of 110-25, she set the school record for kills in a season and then broke it again, received all-state recognition and helped give the Lady Bulldawgs their first 40-win season.
“She is never satisfied,” Copperas Cove head coach Cari Lowery said.
“Most of us in the world, if we were an athlete like Qiana and we could play like this, we’d be pretty proud of ourselves. But not Qiana, she always wants more.”
With 1,464 kills over three seasons, Canete guided the Lady Bulldawgs to consecutive district championships, producing the school’s first undefeated district title in 2012 before repeating this season.
In addition to creating a new benchmark for kills in a season (679) as a senior, Canete led the team in blocks with 234, including 161 solo.
All the success led to multiple offers, but in the end, Canete knew Arlington was where she belonged.
“I love the environment,” she said. “I just feel like it is going to be a really good place for me.”
Canete was not alone, however. Teammate Kyla Menefee signed a letter of intent to play at Alcorn State during the joint ceremony.
Menefee missed virtually her entire senior season due to a broken hand, but she still managed to play a major role on the team, according to Lowery.
“There are a lot of athletes that would have checked out,” she said, “but not Kyla. She was a part of this team and this season, and was a huge part of our success from start to finish.”
Like Canete, Menefee felt extremely accomplished upon signing her letter of intent.
“When you sit out your entire senior season, it is good to know you are going to college to play the sport you love,” she said.
Located in Lorman, Miss., attending Alcorn State allows Menefee to return to her home state, where she will be closer to her sister. One day, Menefee intends to return to Copperas Cove, where she would like to embark on a volleyball coaching career.
Lowery said she would be a welcome addition.
“I’ll take her back because she stepped in as an additional assistant coach for me this year, and I never even had to ask her to do anything,” Lowery said. “She never lost her enthusiasm or her drive or her desire for her team to be better every single day.”
While Menefee is already eyeing a return to Copperas Cove, Canete is focused on making the most of the opportunity she has been working for.
“It is going to be really hard jumping into a new place away from my family,” Canete said, “but I think that is what it is all about. I have to grow up one day, and I’m just really excited.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com