COPPERAS COVE — Jada Close could sense the overconfidence.
After collecting the Robinson tournament championship without losing a set and watching its ranking in the Class 6A state poll rise to seventh, Copperas Cove entered its second district match with lots of momentum; perhaps too much.
The Lady Bulldawgs were forced to climb out of a five-point deficit and fight off a set point in their opener against Ellison before clinching the win and going on to earn a 27-25, 25-16, 25-23 victory.
While Copperas Cove (26-1, 2-0 District 12-6A) emerged with the win, the Lady Bulldawgs’ senior felt the lesson learned was equally valuable.
“After we won the first set,” Close said, “we just had to put that away and pretend it was a new day, a new game and a new start. We had to play the way we know how to play.
“We came into district thinking we were going to win it all, because that’s what we did last year, but this will wake us up.”
Like Copperas Cove, the Lady Eagles were coming off a championship run after claiming the title at the Academy tournament Saturday, and it was a stalemate early on.
The squads went back and forth until Ellison (17-8, 0-1) capped off a 6-2 outburst with four unanswered points, opening a 16-11 advantage.
But it would not last.
The Lady Bulldawgs tied the score 21-21, and the teams exchanged four lead changes before Aidan Chace set up Leah Powell for the set-clinching kill.
“It was a matter of getting into our rhythm,” Copperas Cove head coach Cari Lowery said. “We needed to relax and play our game and do what we do instead of panicking.
“We let it get in our head a little bit and made mistakes we don’t typically make.”
In the second set, the Lady Bulldawgs jumped out to a 9-3 lead to take immediate control, but the Lady Eagles rebounded in the final set after falling into a 9-5 deficit.
Ellison took an 11-9 advantage after Jakarta Hope set up Chyra Thompson for a kill. The small cushion was quickly deflated, though, and the teams were tied six times before Close’s kill secured the outcome.
While the Lady Eagles did not upset Copperas Cove, it felt like an accomplishment, according to Ellison head coach Sarah Stolley.
“My girls were ready to go right when they walked in the gym” she said. “We had a totally different mindset than in past years, and everybody could see it and feel it.
“There was just a lot of fight.”
Leah Powell, a junior, led the Lady Bulldawgs offensively, recording a team-high 11 kills, while Close added eight and Chace finished with seven kills and 15 assists. Senior teammate Kamryn Ash added 22 assists.
Defensively, Kristen Wasiak had a dozen digs and Christina Pettigrew posted seven blocks for Copperas Cove.
Now, the Lady Bulldawgs will look to create their second double-digit win streak of the season Friday, when they travel to Shoemaker.
“We have to maintain a state-champions mentality,” Close said. “We’re going to focus on one game at a time, but overall, we want to be state champions.
“So we have to focus on that during every game.”
TUESDAY'S 12-6A VOLLEYBALL
- Belton def. Shoemaker 25-18, 25-17, 25-19
- No. 7 Copperas Cove def. Ellison 27-25, 25-16, 25-23
- Harker Heights def. Killeen 25-17, 25-13, 25-17
- Waco Midway def. Waco 25-11, 25-4, 25-11
- BYE: Temple
- No. 7 Copperas Cove at Shoemaker, 5:30 p.m.
- Ellison at Killeen, 5:30 p.m.
- Waco at Belton, 5:30 p.m.
- Waco Midway at Temple, 5:30 p.m.
- BYE: Harker Heights