COPPERAS COVE — The easy part is over.

Copperas Cove cruised to three straight-set victories, disposing of Rockdale, Troy and Evant at its 20-team home tournament Thursday.

But that was pool play, where the games are guaranteed. Now, the Lady Bulldawgs must assume an all-or-nothing attitude if they intend to conquer their bracket, according to senior Carlie Tuiasosopo.

“(Today), we are going to have to fight to keep our spot,” the outside hitter said. “It is going to be more intense.”

Her coach, Cari Lowery, however, believes, while the collective team disposition might alter with the tournament’s shift, in order to be successful in the long run, the approach should be unwavering from match to match.

“We have to be focused every day because if we didn’t play well today, it would have knocked us out of any opportunity to be in the champions’ bracket. They know, everybody, every day we play, it counts,” she said.

“You can’t let any games go because that could be the end of your season at some point.”

Despite receiving little challenge from the opposition on the scoreboard, Copperas Cove was far from flawless, especially early.

In the first match of the day, the Lady Bulldawgs were slow to get going, but, once they did, they beat Rockdale 25-10, 25-14. All matches were best of three sets.

After a break, Copperas Cove returned to the court and defeated Troy 25-12, 25-4.

“We did not really play well (against Rockdale),” Lowery said. “We were kind of slow and our defense was just not real strong. Usually, we are pretty strong on defense.

“We played very, very well (against Troy), I thought. We just controlled the game.”

The solid played continued into the match against Evant, and Copperas Cove won 25-10, 25-10 behind a pair of set-changing runs. In the first set, the Lady Bulldawgs used a 15-3 outburst to clinch the set after leading by just three points, 10-7. In the second set, the Lady Elks scored four consecutive points to trim Copperas Cove’s advantage to six points, 13-7, but the Lady Bulldawgs responded with a 12-3 run to secure their third win of the day.

“This morning, we weren’t awake all the way, but, as we went through the day, we got better,” Tuiasosopo said. “We’ve learned from our mistakes, and we learned to be more ready when we step on the court.”

Copperas Cove (4-1 overall) returns to the court Friday, when it competes in the gold division bracket. The Lady Bulldawgs will play the winner between Lorena and Harper at 4:45 p.m with the winner playing again at 11 a.m. Saturday – versus the winner between Gatesville and Georgetown East – and the loser at 6 p.m. Friday. The tournament concludes Saturday.

Regardless of who the Lady Bulldawgs encounter in their bracket over the next two days, Lowery is certain each opponent will prepare her team for district play and, hopefully, a lengthy run through the only bracket that truly matters: The Class 5A Region I postseason bracket.

“There is a wide variety of playing styles and skill levels, and that is going to help us down the road,” the coach said. “We are going to be prepared for anything. We want to be able to control the game and play the game we want to play, not the game the other team is playing.”

Gatesville 3-0 in pool

Gatesville was unscathed following the opening day, but it was only after receiving an early wake-up call from Harper.

The Hornets dropped the first set of their early-morning contest, but responded by winning each of their next six sets to win their pool.

After Harper earned the first set 25-20, Gatesville evened the match by taking the second set 25-17 before clinching the match with a narrow 25-23 win in the third.

The momentum carried over as the Hornets went on to beat Valley Mills (25-13, 25-14) and Evant (25-16, 25-15) in straight sets.

The victories propel Gatesville (5-0 overall) into the gold division bracket, where it plays Georgetown East at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

Davis gets 1st win

After losing its season-opener Tuesday, first-year Lampasas head coach Kecia Davis received her inaugural victory with the program in the second game of pool play as the Lady Badgers defeated Central Texas Christian School in three sets, 25-12, 21-25, 25-9.

It would be the only win of the day, however, for Lampasas.

The victory was sandwiched between straight-set losses to Pflugerville Connally and Waco University. In its opener, Lampasas lost 25-21, 25-19 to the Cougars before falling 25-17, 25-16 to the Trojans.

The performance sends Lampasas (1-3 overall) to the silver division bracket, setting up a 9:15 a.m. match against Waco.

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