The taste of victory on the biggest stage is still fresh with the Coweta Lady Tigers after they advanced to the 5A semi-finals for the first time in school history last fall. They defeated perennial power Tulsa Cascia Hall 3-1 in the 5A State quarterfinals.
Their semi-final game with eventual 2018 State Champion Tulsa Kelley saw the Lady Tigers battle back after losing the first set to deadlock the score, 1-1. Coweta took an advantage deep into the third set, visibly shaking the mighty Lady Comets before they regained composure to win.
Coweta returns a solid core of that semifinal team and will once again play a rugged schedule as they battle for a position to return to the State Tournament.
Junior Abby Jenkins has moved to Texas. She had 367 career assists and 189 career digs at Coweta. Also leaving the Lady Tigers was junior Hailey Hutchins who transferred to Tulsa Victory Christian. She added 55 kills and 47 digs last season.
Third year Head Coach Tony Ramos is reserved about the chances for a repeat run to the final eight before his squad has played a game, but is aware potential is there to run deep into the playoffs.
Coweta finished 34-9 last season and Ramos’ two-year record has grown to 65-20, earning him the Region 3 Coach of the Year honors last season.
Regular season action will have the Lady Tigers competing in the Metro Lakes Conference against Tahlequah, Claremore, Collinsville, Glenpool and Skiatook.
Assisting Coach Ramos again this season will be Zeke Childress and Kris Chilcoat.
“(Our) major strength opening the season is several veteran players return who have started since they were freshmen. They will provide valuable guidance on the court and could well carry us to another good season,” Ramos said. “Basically, we will be as good this year as our younger players are able to contribute, mature and perform.
“I don’t know right now how they will grow and adjust to the faster pace of the game, but I do know they will compete with everything they have to give. At our Nebraska summer clinic, we competed at a high level and definitely have the competitive spirit needed.”
He said the Lady Tigers will need to get out there and grind to see how they compete.
“The pressure is on for sure, but we are not going to worry about what we did last year right now,” Ramos admitted. “The bar has definitely been raised. Now we have to learn from our mistakes both physically and mentally against Tulsa Kelley in the semi-finals. We had them on the ropes, but their experience in that situation allowed them to break through and advance.”
Ramos believes the Lady Tigers have now seen what it takes to compete at that level with the best.
“Every team we play this year has gotten better, and again, the private schools are tough. We know we can compete, right now we just need to bring up the younger girls,” Ramos said.
Ramos said while he is sorry to lose Abby Jenkins and Heather Hutchings, coaches are excited to have sophomore Alex Harper join the program this season.
“She will be competing for a varsity position as our early season progresses,” he assured.
Coweta will be led by a pair of seasoned seniors in setter Heather Stiles and middle hitter Linzy Dill. Joining them will be Nadia Davis and Sydney Welborn.
Stiles has led the Lady Tigers in assists for three straight seasons to amass a fantastic 2,222 assists (Coweta record). She has been second in digs for three seasons to compile 766 career digs and has 189 career kills.
Dill has led the Lady Tigers for two seasons in kills and now has 825 career kills, along with a team high 158 career blocks. Dill is on track to become the Lady Tiger career kills record holder.
Junior libero Kaycee Stiles led the team in digs last season with 594 and over two seasons has 828 digs.
Junior twins Alexxia and Allyson Mercer work on the outside with Alexxia recording 101 kills last season as well as 77 digs and 16 blocks. Allyson had 31 kills, 86 assists, 52 digs and 14 blocks.
Jaylynn Peck also returns to the Lady Tiger varsity.
Working as sophomores on the varsity will be Madison Swift, Jamie Sweetin and Kamryn Lydens.
Joining the Lady Tigers this season will be sophomore Alex Harper, daughter of new Head Football Coach Tim Harper, who moves to Coweta from Mena, Ark.
Freshmen moving up to the varsity will be Abby Boley, Taylor Welborn and Erica Stehm.
The Lady Tigers will open the 2019 season competing in the Dennison, Texas Invitational Tournament Aug. 15-17. They will return home to face Catoosa at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 and will host Tulsa East Central at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22.
INDIVIDUAL CAREER STATS
Heather Stiles – 189 kills, 135 aces, 2,222 assist, 766 digs, 20 blocks.
Linzy Dill – 825 kills, 115 aces, 17 assists, 195 digs, 158 blocks.
Kaycee Stiles – 7 kills, 29 aces, 102 assists, 828 digs.
Alexxia Mercer – 101 kills, 20 aces, 5 assists, 77 digs, 16 blocks.
Allyson Mercer – 31 kills, 10 aces, 86 assists, 52 digs, 14 blocks.
Jaylynn Peck – 1 kill, 2 assists, 125 digs.
Madison Swift – 7 kills, 2 aces, 1 assist, 2 digs, 3 blocks.