By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - Cari Lowery just knew it was coming.
After her Lady Bulldawgs ran away with the opening game against Salado on Tuesday, the Copperas Cove head coach said she knew a letdown was coming.
"You could tell," Lowery said. "We were so up for Game 1, our emotions were up, our adrenaline was going. There's got to be something off of that."
The letdown came right away in the second game when Cove couldn't build the 11-3 or 18-6 lead it had in the opener.
Salado, though not always as fluid as it would have liked, stayed with the Lady Dawgs for the final two games. The Lady Eagles weren't, however, able to pick up a win in either, as Cove went on for the 25-8, 25-18, 25-23 win at home.
It was the second win for Cove, which swept Kerrville Tivy in the first match of the 3-team dual. Salado (11-5) also beat Tivy (6-13) to earn a split.
The opening-game blowout was quickly forgotten as the Lady Eagles matched Cove point-for-point in Game 2, tying the game five times in the first 16 points.
Cove (13-3) was able to stretch its lead out, however, as a bevy of
servers didn't allow Salado to run an offense consistently.
"Serve-receive broke down early," Salado head coach Bree Holz-Gonzales said. "They served tough at us. We're not used to seeing so many servers that serve that tough at us and serve that aggressive."
Cove only had four aces - two from junior Claire Taylor - but it was enough to force the Lady Eagles into simply trying to get the ball back over the net.
"We had to give them a lot of free balls, which they made good use of," Holz-Gonzales said. "You're in total survival mode ... it kills your psyche. Any type of momentum you think you have, it kills it."
Junior Carling Urben led Salado with nine kills against the Lady Bulldawgs. By comparison, Cove had three players with at least nine, with Alex Chace's 16 leading the way.
Cove junior setter Amy Rosenbaum had 15 assists and nine kills, giving the Lady Dawgs another offensive option when senior setter Kenya Williams (21 assists) comes in to run the offense.
"For Kenya, this is three and a half years on varsity for her," Lowery said. "She's just smart and has absorbed every word."
Salado led Game 3 early, going up 10-6 to force a Cove timeout. The Lady Eagles pushed the lead to five and were up as late as 20-19. Chace then tied it with a kill before Salado mishandled another Cove serve to give up its lead.
Copperas Cove def. Kerrville Tivy, 25-22, 25-15, 25-13 - After a slow start, the Lady Dawgs had a huge final-game run to put Tivy away. An Olivia Bates kill snapped a 6-0 Cove run, which included three Chace aces. Phyllicia Cross answered with her seventh kill and Rosenbaum served the next 13 points.
The 14-0 run turned Cove's two-point lead into a 21-6 runaway. It wasn't just Rosenbaum's serving - Cross had a second kill and put away consecutive loose balls at the net, Carlie Tuiasosopo had a kill and Andrea Hurt had two blocks.
Salado def. Kerrville Tivy, 26-24, 25-18, 25-19 - The Lady Eagles swept Tivy, but it wasn't easy. The Lady Antlers pushed Salado in all three games, taking leads throughout the match as well.
Tivy even led for most of the opener, going up by as many as six points (15-9) and holding a 24-23 lead. A Tivy service error, followed by a Jenna Sebek ace turned the game, which Salado won on the next point (a Tivy hitting error).