COPPERAS COVE — Cari Lowery is getting creative with her celebration.
After dedicating the last several months to winning the District 8-5A championship, the Lady Bulldawgs achieved their goal Tuesday, beating Harker Heights 25-15, 25-14, 25-22 to secure the title. But with two district games left on the regular-season schedule, the team is only allowing itself one night to enjoy the accomplishment, causing its head coach to come up with an innovative way to celebrate.
“You get to enjoy it for a minute and then you’ve got to go on to the next one,” Lowery said. “You can’t look past anybody. I’ll enjoy it in my sleep.”
Her players are using a similar approach.
“We can only enjoy for today, tomorrow we’ve got to hurry up and get ready for the next game,” senior outside hitter Carlie Tuiasosopo said. “We can celebrate it in the long run, too, so we can just use this for some oomph to go into the Belton game (Friday).”
Copperas Cove certainly will not be lacking momentum heading into the match against the Tigers. Not only did the Lady Bulldawgs win the district championship, they also extended their current win streak to 19 matches by sweeping the season series against a talented Lady Knights team.
In a battle of two state-ranked teams, No. 15 Copperas Cove dominated No. 20 Harker Heights for a majority of the match, trailing just once during the first two sets.
The Lady Knights claimed an early 2-1 lead in the opening set before Copperas Cove (33-6, 12-0 8-5A) won 14 of the final 17 points to take a 1-0 lead. The trend continued as the Lady Bulldawgs jumped out to a 15-4 lead and cruised to a second-set victory.
Harker Heights (35-5, 10-2) rallied from a 7-3 deficit in the third set to take a 16-14 lead on a run of five unanswered points capped off by Kathleen Janda’s ace. But Copperas Cove won five of the next six points before using a 4-1 run punctuated by one of Bryaunea Hall’s team-high nine kills to clinch the set, match and district championship.
“They seem to have a special hold at (home),” said Harker Heights head coach Chris Wiley. “I’m not sure if it is the court or the lights or the officials or what it is, but they seem to have a way of winning here.”
Copperas Cove is undefeated at home, winning all nine of its matches this season and serving has been a major factor. For the season, the Lady Bulldawgs have successfully put 97 percent of their serves in play, and, against Harker Heights, they did not have a single service error.
“That is what we are suppose to do,” Lowery said. “A serve is a free throw, you shouldn’t miss them.”
Copperas Cove setter Arielle Garcia had a strong night serving, recording two aces, but the senior was heavily involved in the match from all aspects. Garcia finished with a team-high 17 assists, three digs, five kills and a block.
“I was doing anything to not let the ball hit the ground,” Garcia said. “I was definitely motivated by (the chance to become) district champs. That was the main goal, until we get in the playoffs.”
With the district title wrapped up, the Lady Bulldawgs turn their attention to finishing the season strong and making a deep run in the playoffs. Something Wiley has already set his eyes on.
“Right now, the only thing that matters is the playoffs,” he said.
“A district championship doesn’t get you a state championship, and that is all I’m concerned with.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com