COPPERAS COVE — The players might feel a sense of relief, but their coach does not.
After opening the season with 11 consecutive victories, Copperas Cove’s undefeated streak was snapped in the championship match of the Austin ISD Invitational on Saturday. It did not take long to bounce back, however, as the Lady Bulldawgs earned a straight-sets win Monday against Stony Point.
For Copperas Cove middle blocker Qiana Canete, the victory was exactly what her team needed to mentally overcome its first defeat of the season.
“That loss was devastating,” the senior said. “We invested a lot into that game, and the thought of losing just threw everyone off, but we just tried to get that out of our head today and work as hard as we could. (Now) it is out of our system, and we are ready to move on.”
Led by Canete, the Lady Bulldawgs were never threatened by the Lady Tigers, winning 25-13, 25-8, 25-6 as Stony Point strung together consecutive points only four times all evening.
Despite the lopsided nature of the victory, Copperas Cove head coach Cari Lowery did not see reason to celebrate.
“I wasn’t really happy with the way we played tonight,” Lowery said. “We didn’t look very smooth or consistent. … In comparison to how we improved (at the Austin ISD Invitational) against the level of opponent we played, that game was a little slow. It was a little sloppy for us.”
Regardless of opinion, Copperas Cove (12-1) had its way with Stony Point.
Canete was active from the opening serve, blocking a pair of hits and delivering a kill as the Lady Bulldawgs constructed an 8-2 lead to start the match.
The Lady Tigers (5-6) responded with back-to-back points before alternating scores to pull within four points at 13-9, but they did not get any closer. Copperas Cove won 12 of the final 16 points en route to taking the first set.
The second set proved to be more of the same as Canete collected two more blocks and teammate Destinee Branch punctuated a 12-3 opening run with a kill. Senior middle blocker Bryaunea Hall put her fingerprints all over the closing part of the set, including delivering the clinching kill, as the Lady Bulldawgs’ advantage mushroomed to 17 points.
But team defense impressed Canete the most.
“We all had a lot of good blocks,” the defending District 8-5A MVP said. “Our right side and our outside were doing really good setting their blocks, and the middles were getting to them. That is really what we were doing best tonight.”
Copperas Cove hit cruise control in the third set as sophomore Katy Ranes and Branch served up long scoring streaks of seven and eight points, respectively. The Lady Bulldawgs led 16-3 in the final set before winning by 19 points.
Just one week into the season, Copperas Cove has already played 13 games thanks to a hectic schedule during the three-day Austin ISD Invitational, and the Lady Bulldawgs will experience another heavy volume of matches beginning Friday at the two-day Granbury tournament.
Lowery expects the rapid succession of matches will create quick cohesion after adding eight new faces to the 13-person roster.
“District basically starts around the first week of September,” Lowery said. “You have to find out a lot of things in the first week or two weeks and make some adjustments.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com