PARK HILLS — The Mineral Area College volleyball team tried to storm back from two games down against rival Jefferson on Wednesday night, but met a wall of resistance from the defending Region XVI champions.
The visiting Vikings saved some of their best blocking and digging for game four, and strung together nine consecutive points during a pivotal rotation to emerge with a 26-24, 25-13, 24-26, 25-16 victory.
Sophomore middle hitter Beta Dumancic recorded 11 kills with eight blocks, and her presence forced numerous attacks by the Lady Cardinals to originate from several feet off the net.
The 6-foot-4 Croatian delivered a defining spike after Mineral Area stopped four straight swings with impressive digs, then executed a solo stuff to give Jefferson a 21-16 advantage in the final moments.
MAC turned away two match points in game three and extended the action after a jump-serve from Katarina Sretenovic caught the back line for an ace. That momentum continued with a 6-0 streak early in game four.
The Lady Cardinals maintained a 7-4 edge following a chaotic exchange, as Hilary Trevino pierced the deep corner with a diagonal spike after both libero Brooke Williams and Sara Duckworth made dazzling digs.
But the aggressive Vikings would take control from there, as sophomore Taylor Russell served three aces in a span of four points. A block by Rinata Aisena capped the long scoring streak with Jefferson ahead 16-10.
Brooke Simpson tallied nine kills and Jessica Gray added eight to the win. Megan Mueller and Casey Pouliezos highlighted the defense with 19 and 15 digs, respectively, while Kelsey Schlake totaled 32 assists.
Trevino knocked down nine kills while Sretenovic added seven and Maggie Diederich netted six for the Lady Cardinals (4-1), who briefly appeared to have won the opening game.
Jefferson pounded 14 kills in the initial stanza while building a 20-17 lead, but negated its early success with costly attacking errors.
MAC responded to draw even at 21-21 on a double block from Megan Dohogne and Sretenovic, and surged ahead on Williams’ subsequent ace.
Trevino connected again from the left side to snap a 23-23 deadlock, but the Lady Cardinals were denied the clinching point on a detected net violation as a Jefferson smash landed wide.
The Vikings instead captured game one on back-to-back hitting errors, and Mineral Area could not recover from the setback until falling behind 10-3. The game-two margin reached double digits at 16-6 when Jefferson converted a lunging dig by Pouliezos into a kill by Andrea Dwiggins.
Mineral Area achieved an 11-6 lead in game three following back-to-back stuffs by freshman Jami Jackson, who ended the night with seven blocks overall while Dohogne added five.
Sophomore setter Marija Jovanovic compiled 27 assists and 14 digs, and Williams finished with 19 digs for MAC, which returns to action this weekend at the Lindenwood Tournament.