COPPERAS COVE — At times, Bryaunea Hall looked angry, and that is exactly how her coach likes it.
Copperas Cove’s middle blocker emphatically delivered 13 kills against Killeen, frequently flashing a scowl across her face after the ball ricocheted off the floor.
Following the match, Lady Bulldawgs head coach Cari Lowery admitted she likes seeing her players display a mean streak.
“(She) should get mad at that ball,” she said. “They’ll hit it hard if they are mad at it. I always tell them to put somebody’s face on there, maybe an ex-boyfriend’s face.”
Regardless of her source of motivation, Hall’s performance helped the No. 22 Lady Bulldawgsto a 25-16, 25-12, 25-15 victory Tuesday evening, keeping Copperas Cove in the hunt for a second consecutive district championship heading into the final two matches of the regular season.
While Hall’s expression was occasionally glaring, she insists her emotions are not as they appear.
“Sometimes it just looks that way,” Hall said. “It is not necessarily that I’m angry, it’s just that I’m intense. It is to let (my opponents) know that I’m going to keep getting kills, and when people block me, I just want to get it again and hit it to prove they can’t block me.”
The Lady Roos produced only three blocks during the sweep as Hall and fellow middle blocker Qiana Canete, who finished with a match-high 18 kills, repeatedly pummeled their opposition, leaving Killeen’s playoff hopes on life support. With two matches remaining, the Lady Kangaroos must win out and have Ellison lose out in order to have a chance at earning a postseason berth.
A victory over Copperas Cove would have greatly improved the Lady Roos’ odds, but their defense simply could not slow down Canete and Hall.
“Their middle hitters are just unbelievable,” Killeen head coach Shelly Harris said. “They’ve got vertical. I’m not worried about their hard hitting, it is them being able to get up and over our blocks (that gives us problems). So, then on defense, if we are not in the right spots, we’re just not going to get the ball.”
And once the Lady Bulldawgs, who are in a tie with Midway atop the District 8-5A standings, began rolling, they were difficult to stop.
Killeen (12-14, 5-7) was within two points, 14-12, midway through the opening set before a 9-1 run by Copperas Cove (36-7, 11-1) completely swung momentum in its direction. In the second set, the Lady Bulldawgs used a 15-4 run to build a comfortable 17-6 advantage and cruise to victory.
The Lady Roos had their best showing in the third set, holding a slim lead on several occasions, including at 12-11. Hall, who posted four blocks, tied the match 12-12, triggering a set-clinching 14-3 outburst by Copperas Cove, including nine unanswered point to secure the victory.
Chalon Anderson led Killeen offensively in defeat with 14 kills to go along with 10 digs.
Canete had three kills during the Lady Bulldawgs’ final 9-0 run, bringing her season total to 590, which is well beyond the school record of 453 she set a year ago.
“I’m going to try not to think about it that much because I don’t want to jinx myself,” she said, “but I hope I reach the 600 mark and more.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com