Time is up.
For the past three weeks, Copperas Cove has been adjusting to the loss of standout libero Kristen Wasiak, who is sidelined with a broken finger. Since the injury, the Lady Bulldawgs have been scrambling.
Head coach Cari Lowery altered her lineup to account for Wasiak’s absence, hoping for a smooth transition, but over the weekend, she realized the philosophy was flawed.
“I completely changed my defense on Saturday,” Lowery said. “I’m excited about the potential, but our learning curve has to be quick.
“We’re just trying to find what is going to fit and what is going to work, and I think this will work, but we just don’t have any time. It just has to happen.”
Despite the circumstances, Copperas Cove certainly appeared prepared for its upcoming playoff run Tuesday, when it closed the regular season with a 25-3, 25-9, 25-2 victory at Killeen.
The Lady Bulldawgs opened the match with 11 unanswered points and never eased up en route to a one-sided win.
Then, in the second set, the Lady Kangaroos used a 4-2 run to pull within two points at 6-4. Killeen would only score seven points, however, the rest of the match.
Like Lowery, though, Lady Kangaroos head coach Crystal Bennett understands how injuries can alter chemistry on the court.
“Copperas Cove is a good team,” she said, “and we respect them, but we are plagued with injuries. I’m not making excuses, but we’re down to seven girls, and I was playing a setter who had never set in her life that I pulled up from junior varsity.
“It’s challenging, but this is going to make them grow.”
At one point, the Lady Bulldawgs recorded 18 consecutive points in a run bridging the second and third sets, and after allowing the Lady Kangaroos, who fell to 3-13 in District 12-6A, to earn a point off a serving error, Copperas Cove (39-3, 14-2) won another dozen consecutive points.
“There are teams that would freak out if their coach came in and told them after 40 games into the season to scrap everything they’ve been doing because we’re moving on,” Lowery said, “but they just go along with whatever I’m saying.
“So, win, lose or draw; however it finishes out, there’s nothing else I could ask for.”
Jada Close and Aidan Chace led the Lady Bulldawgs offensively, recording 10 kills apiece, while teammates Leah Powell and Janice Fa’aola each tallied eight kills with Kamryn Ash accounting for 37 assists. Defensively, libero Aviyon Wilborn posted a team-high 16 digs, and Christina Pettigrew and Chace were each responsible for three blocks.
Copperas Cove will take the court one more time before opening the program’s 13th consecutive postseason appearance next week.
The Lady Bulldawgs host Class 5A No. 11 Hutto in a playoff warm-up match Friday at 6:30 p.m. Then, Copperas Cove travels to West on Tuesday to play Mesquite Horn in the bi-district round.
“We’ve just got to click,” Lowery said, “and we’ve got to click now.”
While the Lady Bulldawgs are looking forward, Bennett cannot help but look back on her first season overseeing Killeen’s program.
“The girls worked hard,” she said, “and they did everything I asked of them. I had girls playing positions they’d never played before, so I’m proud of them.
“This was a successful season to me.”
- 5A-No. 11 Hutto at Copperas Cove in playoff warm-up match, 6:30 p.m. Friday