Co-District 12-6A champion Copperas Cove was rewarded for its outstanding season with three superlative honors and two first-team honorees.
Losing 10 seniors off last year’s squad which went three rounds deep in the 2014 postseason derby, some so-called experts predicted a slide from the 2015 Lady Dawgs.
Those so-called experts were wrong. Very wrong.
Under the guidance of 11-year head coach Cari Lowery, the 2015 Lady Dawgs started strong, stayed strong, got stronger, knocked off Waco Midway — with its three D-I commits — and claimed a share of the district title with an 11-1 record. The Lady Dawgs were 34-11 overall and advanced into the second round of the playoffs.
Lowery was awarded District Coach of the Year, Cove senior Katy Ranes was named Setter of the Year and teammate Bailey French earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Ranes was clearly the league’s top setter but was also a terrific hitter and excellent defender.
Of Ranes receiving a superlative, Lowery said, “I think it’s very well deserved. I couldn’t be more proud of Katy. She has worked so hard for me since she was about 8 years old.”
Of French, Lowery said, “The improvement Bailey has shown from August to November — getting so much better in such a short period of time — is unprecedented to our program. Bailey has also worked so hard for me and she absolutely deserves this honor.”
Lowery took over the Cove program in 2004. She inherited a program that won a total of seven games in two years prior to her arrival. Under Lowery, the Lady Dawgs quickly became formidable. Soon enough, Cove was a state-ranked team and for the past seven years or so have been considered a Central Texas power.
“I was excited for Cari receiving Coach of the Year honors for her work this season,” said Lady Dawgs assistant coach Christy Thompson. “I don’t feel like there is anyone more deserving than Cari. She coaches her players — and she coaches her assistant coaches — to always perform at their best and do everything possible to make sure our program maintains a high level of success.
“Cari is very modest. She’ll tell you ‘It’s the kids that are out there playing.’ But Cari does a great job at pulling every bit of potential out of our kids.
“At the start of this season, people looked at us and said, ‘They aren’t the same team.’ Well, we weren’t the same team because we graduated a lot of players. But Cari keeps a positive attitude, molds her players into a team, a true unit, and she always expects the best out of them — and they deliver for her. And Cari makes sure the kids don’t perform just for her, she wants them to strive to be at their best for each other.”
Chyanne Chapman and Raeven Dickerson were Cove’s first-team honorees.
Belton senior Allison Waits received Blocker of the Year. Waits, the go-to striker for the Lady Tigers, led Belton to a third-place district finish with many clutch kills and block-kills.
Harker Heights Miracle Ellison, a junior, earned Newcomer of the Year largely for her superlative play as a defender.
Also earning first-team honors were Ellison’s Alexandria Jones, Breonna Fleming, Belton’s Brey York and Abbey Morgan, Heights’ Kennedi Foster, Killeen’s Madison Sapp and Shoemaker’s Charlene Shepherd.
(For a complete listing of the second-team honorees and those awarded honorable mention, please see page B2.)