GLEN ROSE — It happened again.
For the second consecutive year, Copperas Cove saw a stellar season come to an end in the area round of the playoffs. After earning the program’s first undefeated district championship in 2012, Flower Mound earned a straight-set victory to eliminate the Lady Bulldawgs from the postseason.
Saturday afternoon, inside the same building, Hebron repeated the feat.
In a battle of state-ranked opponents, the No. 12 Lady Hawks beat No. 21 Copperas Cove 25-22, 25-22, 25-18 at Glen Rose’s Tiger Arena, ending the Lady Bulldawgs’ first 40-win season in school history.
After the match, Copperas Cove head coach Cari Lowery admitted the best team won.
“We didn’t play great,” she said. “We didn’t play our best game, and in (Class) 5A playoffs, you can’t even have one kid that has an average game. Everybody has to play their best every time.”
For a majority of the match, Copperas Cove was playing from behind en route to being swept in a best-of-five match for the first time this season.
Hebron claimed an early 3-2 advantage before the Lady Bulldawgs used a 12-6 outburst to create a cushion. The Lady Hawks responded by winning 10 of the next 12 points, and Copperas Cove never completely recovered.
The Lady Bulldawgs never led again after going ahead 16-15 in the opening set as Hebron thwarted every comeback attempt for the duration of the match.
Part of the reason Copperas Cove (40-8) was unable to create any momentum stemmed from the fact it was being called for numerous infractions during the match, and the officiating caused players to alter their style, according to Lowery.
“I think the official took us out of our system a little bit with just random, crazy calls,” she said. “That hurt us, and we started playing it a little safe, I think. We didn’t know what was going to get called.”
After clinching the first set, Hebron (36-11) pounced on the Lady Bulldawgs, immediately establishing a large lead by scoring eight unanswered points to begin the second set. Copperas Cove slowly chipped away at the deficit before going on an 8-2 run to pull within two points, 16-14, but the Lady Hawks quickly pushed their lead to 19-14 with three consecutive points.
Back-to-back kills from senior Bryaunea Hall got Copperas Cove within striking distance at 23-22, but the Lady Bulldawgs were called for a lift before a hitting error ended the set.
With its season on the line, Copperas Cove found itself trailing 12-6 to begin the third set, and Hebron was never truly threatened. The closest the Lady Bulldawgs got was five points, 23-18, before a serving error and a hitting error ended the match and Copperas Cove’s season.
Although several Lady Bulldawgs had strong performances in the season finale, individual statistics mean little to Lowery.
“You couldn’t separate one kid out of that (group),” she said. “It’s a team (effort).”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org