Copperas Cove Class 5A Region II bi-district playoff game
November 4, 2009
Volleyball Playoffs: Lady Dawgs beat Horn in 4 Posted On: Wednesday, Nov. 4 2009 04:59 AM

Herald/Catrina Rawson
Copperas Cove’s Kelly Kearns celebrates while playing against Mesquite Horn during their Class 5A bi-district match Tuesday at Waco High School.

By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald


WACO – Following a back-and-forth, five-game thriller in which District 12-5A rival Belton beat DeSoto, Copperas Cove made it 2-for-2 for 12-5A at Waco High on Tuesday.

The Lady Bulldawgs, facing the same Mesquite Horn team they swept a year ago, won the Class 5A Region II bi-district playoff in four games (25-17, 22-25, 29-27, 25-18).

"It's playoffs and that's how playoffs go initially," Cove coach Cari Lowery said.

Making its third trip to the area round in four years, Cove (32-8) will face Richardson Lake Highlands (29-12), which knocked off Garland Naaman Forest in the opening round. The two will meet in the area round either Friday or Saturday at a time and location to be determined. Lowery said the Dawgs have Waco High reserved but may not play there.

The match didn't start with the back-the-forth flow that took over in the final two games. Cove dominated the opening game, while Mesquite Horn answered, pulling away late in Game 2.

"First game, Horn played panicked and they couldn't do anything right," Lowery said. "Then in Game 2, Horn came out and scored a few points on us and got on fire and we kind of panicked. That's just how playoffs are – first-round playoffs.

"It's just everybody is nervous. Several of mine have never been in a playoff game before, so it's just different."

Once they got going, the Lady Dawgs jumped all over Mesquite Horn, scoring the match's opening six points and leading 21-12 before the Lady Jags rallied for three straight points.

Mesquite Horn (14-20-1) used a four-point run to break a 17-17 tie in the second game, pulling away from Cove. The Lady Dawgs got to within 22-21 on back-to-back blocks from Amber Moore and Michelle Blount on Mesquite Horn's Tabitha Hutson, but the Lady Jags went back to the junior and she scored their final two points to even the match.

"Game 2, we looked terrified to me," Lowery said. "Our faces were just scared and panicked. I think the kids just think that we're working so hard in practice so we're just going to go in the there and thump everybody right off the bat.

"It's never like that. Whatever you see in scouting reports is never the same as how it's going to be because everybody steps up to play."

Said senior Amber Moore: "We just really had to remember if we lose, we'd be out. Game 2 we really didn't play up to what we could."

Cove adjusted on both offense and defense in the final two games. Offensively, the Lady Dawgs allowed themselves to set up their hitters and not simply get the ball back across the net. On the other side, Cove found an answer for Hutson, though it took well into the fourth game before Mesquite Horn started looking elsewhere for its points.

Tied at 14-14 in Game 3, Hutson scored four consecutive Lady Jag points and nearly had a fifth but the kill went long. Cove closed the gap and the two went back, playing through six ties before back-to-back kills from Phyllicia Cross and Kelly Kearns won the game.

Mesquite Horn stayed in front of Cove for most of the finale, but the Lady Dawgs took the lead at 18-17. The Lady Jags tied the game, but three straight Cove points, including one on a Mesquite Horn error forced Lady Jag coach Morgan Reed to call a timeout.

Mesquite never recovered.

"It was like our whole side of the gym lifted up," Lowery said. "You could feel the intensity level our side pick up and Horn didn't have an answer."

Two more kills forced a second timeout, and back-to-back Lady Jag hitting errors ended the match.

"We started getting pumped on the court and cheering louder," Moore said. "The crowd really helps out, but we have to do it ourselves, too."

Contact Angel Verdejo at averdejo@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7564.

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