AUSTIN — There is a first time for everything.
Cari Lowery accomplished a lot in the first 14 years of her career as Copperas Cove head coach. She led the Lady Bulldawgs on multiple playoff runs, including their current streak of a dozen consecutive seasons, won several district championships, helped numerous players become collegiate standouts and cemented herself as the most successful coach in program history.
But one achievement continually eluded Lowery — until Saturday.
After posting an unblemished record through the first two days of competition, Copperas Cove capped off its run at the Austin ISD Jason Landers Invitational by capturing the tournament title with straight-set victory against Cedar Park Vista Ridge, and Lowery admits the championship is significant.
“This is awesome because it’s the first time we’ve won this tournament,” she said. “We’ve been second and third, left with silver medals multiple times, but we have never won it.
“So this was big.”
Although capturing the title at the three-day, 42-team tournament was special, the accomplishment was more meaningful because of how the Lady Bulldawgs earned it.
On the heels of sweeping two days of pool play, Copperas Cove opened play in the Gold bracket with a victory against host Austin Bowie (25-22, 20-25, 25-22) before defeating Midlothian 25-14, 25-22 in the semifinals.
The win set up a championship encounter with the Lady Rangers, who ended the Lady Bulldawgs’ run at last year’s Volleypalooza tournament, with a 28-26, 25-18 win.
History would not repeat itself, though.
Copperas Cove (9-0) scored seven of the match’s first eight points and used a 10-2 outburst to take control of the second set en route to a one-sided 25-12, 25-15 victory.
“Last year,” Lowery said, “they killed us, and we just did not play well, so it was great to see the girls take care of them, because Vista Ridge has everyone back.
“We really handled that match, never let them in it and just dominated across the board.”
The Lady Bulldawgs landed four players on the all-tournament team, including seniors Jada Close, Aidan Chace, Kamryn Ash and junior Leah Powell.
Following the benchmark performance, Chace admitted she believes the showing will propel Copperas Cove.
“This is just going to build our confidence up even more as we get ready for the rest of the season,” the setter said. “I’m really happy about this championship, and I know coach Lowery is really happy, so it just feels great right now.”
HARKER HEIGHTS FALLS TWICE
Competing in the Bronze bracket, the Lady Knights both of their matches.
In the first round, Austin defeated Harker Heights 25-16, 25-19 before Georgetown East View beat the Lady Knights 25-18, 25-3.
Harker Heights went 3-5 in the tournament.
GATESVILLE LOSES TO BRACKET CHAMP
Despite receiving a first-round bye in the Copper bracket, the Hornets were eliminated in their first match, losing to San Antonio Stevens 25-21, 25-17. The Falcons went on to win the Copper title.
In its second match, Gatesville lost to Kerrville Tivy 25-7, 25-18.
KILLEEN DEFEATED IN THREE SETS
The Lady Kangaroos lost a close contest in their lone match, falling to Del Valle 25-18, 18-25, 25-21 in a four-team consolation bracket.
SATURDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Austin ISD Invitational
- Copperas Cove def. Austin Bowie 25-22, 20-25, 25-23
- Copperas Cove def. Midlothian 25-14, 25-22
- Copperas Cove def. Cedar Park Vista Ridge 25-12, 25-15
- Austin High def. Harker Heights 25-16, 25-19
- Georgetown East View def. Harker Heights 25-18, 25-3 (Harker Heights finishes 18th of 42 teams)
- San Antonio Stevens def. Gatesville 25-21, 25-17
- Kerrville Tivy def. Gatesville 25-7, 25-18 (Gatesville finishes in 22nd place)
Flight 2 Bracket
- Del Valle def. Killeen 25-18, 18-25, 25-21 (Killeen finishes in 33rd place)
Florence Stampede Showdown
- Central Texas Christian def. Florence 22-25, 25-12, 25-20
- Central Texas Christian def. Lampasas 25-17, 27-25
- Shoemaker def. Round Rock Christian 25-21, 25-14
Round Rock Westwood Showcase
- Belton def. Ellison 25-19, 25-22
- Ellison def. Pflugerville 25-23, 25-17
- Leander def. Ellison
- Belton def. Temple 25-21, 25-23
- Seguin def. Belton 21-25, 25-17, 25-23