The Brownwood Lady Lions and Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs were about as evenly matched as two volleyball teams could be last season, sharing second place in District 16-4A.
Through three of the four sets played at Warren Gym Tuesday, they still appeared to be on a level plane. But the third-ranked Lady Dawgs eventually wore down the inexperienced Lady Lions, securing a four-set league victory.
Brownwood took the opening set, 26-24, but Copperas Cove rallied for wins of 25-23, 25-21 and 25-13. Cove improved to 3-0 in district play, while the Lady Lions slipped to 1-2, having lost to No. 1 Midway Friday in Hewitt.
The momentum was decidedly in the Lady Lions’ favor following the first set.
Flynn Harrell’s kill pulled the Lady Lions even at 14-all in the opener, which began a run of three straight points that ensured Brownwood would not trail again.
Ta’Kenda Cotton followed with a spike, then the Lady Dawgs hit a ball out of bounds as Brownwood’s lead quickly grew to 16-14.
The lead peaked at three points, 19-16, when the Lady Dawgs couldn’t get a serve from Moochie Galloway back over the net.
Leading 22-19, the Lady Lions faltered enough for Copperas Cove to forge even again at 22-all.
A spike from Harrell put the Lady Lions back in front until Cove’s Tina Miller answered with a kill that knotted the set at 23-all.
Lady Dawg Ashley Rosenbaum’s tip at the net landed out of bounds, which allowed the Lady Lions to reclaim a 24-23 edge.
The set appeared over on a Harrell kill, but she was whistled for extending her arm over the net, which created a another tie at 24-all.
Harrell then delivered an unquestionable kill to push Brownwood back in front, 25-24, before Galloway tallied the kill that ended the first set.
Brownwood was forced into catch-up mode in the second set after falling behind early, 11-5.
The Lady Lions slowly climbed back into contention, cutting the gap to four points on a tip from Cotton, three points on a Harrell kill, and two points, 22-20, following a kill from Galloway.
Another Harrell spike deflected off a Copperas Cove player and landed out of bounds, which allowed Brownwood to close to within a point, 22-21.
Following a Cove time out, the Lady Dawgs took advantage of a pair of Brownwood service errors — two of six during the second set — which put Brownwood in a 24-22 hole.
A spike from Harrell again brought the Lady Lions to within a point at 24-23, but Kara Kemp’s kill gave the second set to Cove.
With the momentum of the match on the line in the third set, the two teams traded the lead four times and were tied eight ties before Cove pulled away.
Knotted at 13-all, another Lady Lion service error put Copperas Cove in front, and the Lady Dawgs never trailed again.
The lead reached four points, 22-18, following a block by Cove’s Sapphire Reid. A pair of spikes from Harrell gave Brownwood hope and cut the deficit to 22-20.
A Miller tip put Cove up 23-20, but Galloway answered with a spike. Ty McFarlin’s kill gave the Lady Dawgs a 24-21 advantage, and a Brownwood spike into the net resulted in the last point.
The wind appeared to leave the sails of the Lady Lions after the third set as they quickly fell into a 5-0 hole.
Cove took the first double-digit lead of the match at 14-4, and the advantage peaked at 18-5. It wasn’t until then that the Lady Lions recorded consecutive points in the fourth set.
Two miscommunication errors by Copperas Cove and a block from Alex Williams allowed Brownwood to trim the gap to 10 points, 18-8.
The Lady Lions got as close as nine points, 19-10, on a spike from Harrell, but Cove scored the next three to ruin any hopes of a Brownwood comeback.
Copperas Cove picked up its final two points on Lady Lion miscues, which led to a 25-13 victory.
Brownwood will attempt to return to the win column Friday as it ventures to Waco to face University in District 16-4A action.