By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 18, 2015) — Time and again Stephenville went for the block, and time and again Abilene Cooper backed off and simply tipped the ball over the defenders to an empty spot on the court.
It was a theme that lasted all evening Tuesday as Cooper erased a big first-set deficit and never looked back in a 25-15, 25-21, 25-19 sweep of Stephenville (6-4) at Gandy Gym.
Stephenville began the match on a 12-2 run, but everything changed out of a Cooper timeout. Cooper outscored Stephenville 23-3 the rest of the set, thanks largely to 11 Stephenville errors or penalties during that stretch including four straight hitting errors to break a 15-15 tie.
The tip drill the Lady Cougars used to pull away really took hold in the second set. Cooper scored consecutive tips out of a timeout for a 21-17 lead moments after Stephenville had forced the break with three straight points.
The third set turned on a tip, as well. Stephenville was up 4-2 early on before Cooper tipped one over a block attempt to jumpstart a 5-1 charge for a 7-5 advantage. Another tip at the net ignited three straight points for a 12-7 lead. Moments later, the Bees committed consecutive errors to fall behind 14-8.
Mikayla Hobbs did everything she could to keep Stepheville alive three kills down the stretch, and the Bees were within two after a hard kill shot by Kourtney Seaton, but a Cooper kill and three Honeybee errors ended the sweep.
Seaton led Stephenville with seven kills while Hobbs and Kaleigh Conger each added six. Chelsea Gillespie had 15 assists and seven digs, Kylee Ponder led the team with 11 digs and Kerstin Fredrickson landed a pair of aces.
The Bees are in tournament play in Granbury Thursday through Saturday and return home to face Gatesville next Tuesday. Thursday’s pool play pits Stephenville against Copperas Cove at 4 p.m., and Burleson Centennial at 5 p.m. before a rematch with Cooper at 6 p.m.