WEST — Copperas Cove needed a reminder, and Mesquite Horn provided it.
After winning all but three matches prior to the playoffs, the Lady Bulldawgs entered their Class 6A bi-district contest accustomed to dominating opponents.
Almost immediately, however, it became evident the postseason would not be easy.
Copperas Cove needed late outbursts in each of the first two sets before putting together a complete showing en route to 25-12, 25-14, 25-8 victory, and after the win, Lady Bulldawgs senior Aidan Chace admitted the performance put things into perspective.
“We had to talk about not starting off slow,” the former all-district most valuable player said. “We have to start off strong, because the further we progress into the playoffs, the harder it gets, and we won’t be able to start off in a hole.
“That last set was our motivation.”
Although Copperas Cove head coach Cari Lowery might have preferred her team win in lopsided fashion, she believes the showing will be beneficial.
“If it was easy,” she said, “they would think they could just cruise through the playoffs. So it’s better for them to have to fight back and fight back and fight back, because they have to understand in the playoffs, you have to fight for every single point.
“It’s only going to get harder.”
The Lady Bulldawgs, who have only lost one match outside of district, fell into a 3-0 hole to open the first set and went back and forth with the Lady Jaguars en route to trimming the deficit to two points at 8-6.
Then, Copperas Cove (41-3) embarked on a 19-4 run, culminating with 10 unanswered points to secure the set.
The trend repeated itself in the ensuing set as Horn (18-24) owned a 12-11 advantage before the Lady Bulldawgs responded by claiming 14 of the next 16 points.
“We just got a little shaken up to start the first two sets,” Copperas Cove libero Aviyon Wilborn said. “We just had to work through it, talk and get back on our feet.
“It was all about teamwork.”
Copperas Cove was never challenged in the final set, constructing a 8-1 lead before cruising into the second round of the playoffs.
Chace recorded a team-high 16 kills to go with a dozen digs and a pair of blocks, while teammate Janice Fa’aola added eight kills thanks in part to Kamryn Ash’s 33 assists. Defensively, Leah Powell (13) and Wilborn (12) also contributed double-digit digs, and Jada Close and Powell finished with three blocks apiece.
Now, the Lady Bulldawgs will look to reach the regional quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, but it will not be easy.
Copperas Cove must upset No. 4 Prosper to advance. The Lady Eagles bring a 33-9 record into Friday’s match after defeating Rowlett 25-20, 25-11, 25-16 to win the bi-district championship. The area round encounter will be played at West High School at 6:30 p.m.
“They’re big,” Lowery said, “they’re solid, they’re going to be good, and they’re going to play a lot like us, because they’ve got hitters everywhere.
“It’s going to be a challenge — all the remaining games will be — but they are beatable, just like everybody is.”
TUESDAY'S PLAYOFF VOLLEYBALL SCORES
- Copperas Cove def. Mesquite Horn 25-12, 25-14, 25-8
- Rockwall def. Ellison 25-19, 25-15, 25-14
- Rockwall-Heath def. Belton 25-17, 25-23, 25-21
- Boerne def. Salado 25-9, 25-16, 25-18
- No. 2 Midlothian Heritage def. Gatesville 25-11, 25-13, 25-15