GLEN ROSE — Copperas Cove knew its two-month-long winning streak would eventually end. The Lady Bulldawgs did not expect it would conclude in such stunning fashion, though.
After winning 23 consecutive matches with relative ease, Copperas Cove was dominated Saturday, losing to Flower Mound 25-13, 25-14, 25-21 in the area round of the Class 5A playoffs, ending the most successful season in the program’s history.
Despite producing a benchmark season, Copperas Cove head coach Cari Lowery admitted after the match her team still has some growing to do.
“We are just not there yet,” the coach said. “We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet.
“We had the most wins, the most consecutive wins, the first district championship, first undefeated district season; they put Copperas Cove volleyball on the map. You (have to) be proud of everything they accomplished.”
Flower Mound simply had too much firepower for the Lady Bulldawgs, who could not generate any momentum during the match, leading just twice during the first two sets, with both advantages occurring in the initial moments of the second set, and scoring three consecutive points just once in the entire match.
The Lady Jaguars immediately put Copperas Cove (37-7) on its heels, jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the first set and increasing its cushion to 12 points at 22-10 en route to a first-set win.
“It was a little intimidating for us,” senior outside hitter Brittney Johnson said of Flower Mound’s run to start the match. “But we tried (to stop them), so that is all you can ask for.”
The Lady Bulldawgs responded by claiming their first lead of the match on the opening serve of the second set, and then held a slim 2-1 advantage soon after, but the Lady Jaguars took control and never gave it back, using an 8-2 and 7-2 run on their way to winning the second set.
“Our defense wasn’t up to our usual standards tonight,” senior Carlie Tuiasosopo said. “We had a few little runs, but it was kind of a game of playing up and down. We were marginal tonight.”
Cove showed life in the third set, taking a 4-1 lead on Qiana Canete’s scoring block and increased the cushion to 8-4 thanks to a Tuiasosopo block, but Flower Mound rallied to claim a 20-19 advantage and clinched the victory with a match-ending 5-2 run.
Although the season ended far too early for the Lady Bulldawgs’ liking, it will remain engrained in the memory of Lowery as one of the most enjoyable of her 25-year career, and it is due to the dedication of her players, especially her seniors — Johnson, Tuiasosopo, Arielle Garcia, Deanna Anderson and Jessica Vick.
“When we started this year, we could have very easily been an average team because we were young, we were inexperienced, and we had some brand-new kids,” Lowery said. “Those seniors were the core that raised it to a whole other level. They raised the bar for everybody. They raised the volleyball bar for Copperas Cove.”
Having played the final match of her high school career, Johnson hopes her team leaves a legacy future players will aim to exceed.
“I think we were good role models as a team,” Johnson said. “They can beat some of our records, not all of them, but I think that is a good motivation for them. Maybe they can go further in playoffs next year if they can, and I’ll be super happy for them if they do.”