When COVID-19 forced Coppell’s volleyball program to quarantine midway through the District 6-6A schedule, Cowgirls head coach Julie Price knew that she had to get creative.
Although the Cowgirls were forced to resort to conducting team practices over a daily Zoom meeting for 14 days, all of the players used film sessions that had been posted on Hudl’s website to bond as a team.
All of that downtime proved to be beneficial.
Coppell hasn’t skipped a beat since returning to the court two weeks ago, with the Cowgirls posting a record of 5-2 over that span, most recently a 3-0 (25-10, 25-19, 25-15) sweep of visiting Lewisville on Tuesday.
More importantly, the Cowgirls have clinched a Class 6A playoff berth. Coppell is locked into the No. 4 seed in District 6-6A.
“It was really, really hard,” Price said of the two-week quarantine. “You’re not playing, so there’s that. Then you also have kids that are sick. So, you’re also dealing with that. Then, there is the mental part of being home and not being able to practice and isolated from your peers.
“For all of the teams that struggle with the quarantine, it is challenging. Nothing really prepares you for that. But, our kids did a really good job of staying connected. We met with them virtually. We did film. We did breakouts. We’re still trying to do some things. I feel they really came back connected in a way that we were before we left.”
Against Lewisville (1-16 overall, 0-12 District 6-6A), Coppell (14-8, 7-4) dominated the first set but was met with plenty of resistance in each of the next two sets. The Farmers dug out several balls during multiple plays that featured a long point.
Lewisville led the second set 11-10 and trailed 14-13 in the third set after a kill by Mya Black. But, Coppell overcame several mistakes to finish each set strong. Senior Madison Gilliland buried a kill to end the second game. Junior Beca Centeno fired a kill of her own near the 10-foot line to end the match.
“It was just a little messy tonight,” Price said. “It wasn’t our best, but it is okay to struggle sometimes. We played some different kids and played a little bit differently. It wasn’t our cleanest match, but I’m proud of the way that they finished it.”
Seniors Madison Gilliland, Mari Taira and Grace Bass were recognized prior to the start of the match for their contributions to the program during the team’s annual Senior Night recognition ceremony.
On Nov. 7, Coppell gave defending Class 6A state runner-up Plano West all that it could handle. The Cowgirls pushed the Lady Wolves, ranked No. 9 in the state’s largest classification by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, to the brink, West squeezed out a few more a winning plays in a 3-2 victory (21-25, 16-25, 25-22, 23-25, 11-15).
Gilliland had a monster effort in defeat, recording 22 kills, 12 digs and five blocks. Sophomore Reagan Engler tallied seven kills and three blocks. Centeno led Coppell’s defensive efforts with 21 digs. Junior Haley Holz had a solid all-around effort with seven kills, one block and 19 digs. Taira and sophomore Taylor Young combined for 43 assists.
“I think that our kids can see that they can play well with a team that is ranked that high in the state and beat the No. 1 team in the nation (Flower Mound),” Price said. “We’ll just continue to work and fix a couple of things that we didn’t do as well.”
Prior to the loss to Plano West, Coppell had strung together a four-match winning streak – defeating Plano East, Plano, Hebron and Lewisville, all via a three-set sweep. The Cowgirls’ win over the Lady Hawks put them in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth. Hebron will miss the postseason for the first time in program history.
“My kids played so well against Hebron both times, even better the second time,” Price said. “Our numbers showed some things that we did well that we had been working on. Hebron is well-coached and super athletic. For us to play them and play them that well, it’s such a confidence boost for us heading into every other match.”
Coppell will get its chance at redemption Friday night at Plano West before closing out the regular season at 1 p.m. Saturday at Flower Mound.