COPPERAS COVE — Janice Fa’aola might have been a hidden weapon, but not anymore.
As a junior, Copperas Cove’s outside hitter made an impact, helping the Lady Bulldawgs produce the program’s most wins in a season and landing on the 12-6A All-District First Team.
At times, however, she was overshadowed.
Playing on a talent-rich roster sporting five standouts currently competing collegiately, Fa’aola’s abilities were masked, but they are a now on full display.
Fa’aola led Copperas Cove in kills Tuesday, guiding the team to a district-opening 25-16, 25-9, 25-15 victory against Shoemaker, and following the match, she admitted feeling a desire to deliver.
“Although I was an upperclassman last season,” Fa’aola said, “I still had a lot of seniors to look up to, but switching to this year, I’m the senior now. I have to be a role model for all the newcomers and younger players.
“But I’m excited, because this is what I’ve been looking forward to.”
Copperas Cove head coach Cari Lowery is also anticipating the possibilities.
“She is a weapon,” Lowery said. “Last year, we had five or six hitters, and the offense was spread out between them.
“So everybody doesn’t know what Janice can do yet, but they are finding out.”
The Lady Grey Wolves quickly became acquainted with Fa’aola as she delivered repeated kills, including one to emphatically end the opening set.
After falling behind 9-6 to begin the match, the Lady Bulldawgs took control with an 8-1 run before Shoemaker (9-12, 0-1) pulled within two points, 17-15, but Copperas Cove captured the momentum.
With Fa’aola accounting for five of the team’s next eight points, the Lady Bulldawgs earned a win and never eased up.
Copperas Cove recorded 20 of the first 25 points in the second set and essentially secured the outcome with a 9-1 outburst to start the final set.
“We started slow,” Fa’aola said. “By the second set, we all came together and talked about what we needed to do — playing our game and keeping up the pace.”
Along with fellow returners Leah Powell, Jeala Rice and Sam Ingram, the Lady Bulldawgs expect to compete for the district championship once again after a sound start to district play.
While Copperas Cove (18-8, 1-0) has taken the first step toward its goal, Shoemaker head coach Merdith Shaw-Moore understands no team’s fate is determined yet.
“This is a learning experience,” she said. “They exposed some weaknesses that I can take back to the gym and work on. I can’t discredit Copperas Cove.
“But overall, it’s just one game.”
TUESDAY'S DISTRICT 12-6A MATCHES
- Belton def. Waco 25-10, 25-10, 25-10
- Copperas Cove def. Shoemaker 25-16, 25-9, 25-15
- Ellison def. Killeen
- Waco Midway def. Temple 25-15, 25-14, 25-12
- BYE: Harker Heights