PARK HILLS — Strong blocking highlighted an aggressive opening game as the Mineral Area College volleyball team sought a breakthrough win against a longtime nemesis on Wednesday night.
Despite playing before the largest home crowd of the season, the Lady Cardinals could not sustain their early intensity past game two, and powerful Jefferson attacked with authority to prevail 21-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-11.
Freshman Brooke Simpson knocked down half of her match-high 16 kills during two pivotal rotations, and was a major catalyst in helping the Lady Vikings (14-10) avoid falling two games down.
Mineral Area (19-4) rattled off six straight points by effectively keeping rallies alive with alert defense, resuling in a flurry of Jefferson errors, and eventually pushed ahead 18-15 deep into game two.
But Chelsey Robinson reversed the momentum with consecutive blocks, and Simpson connected from the left side to protect a narrow Jefferson lead after former high school teammate Anna Laitinen brought MAC within 22-21.
Middle hitter Beta Dumancic compiled 14 kills with eight blocks, Aleksandra Niemiec added 13 kills to the triumph and libero Casey Pouliezos made 19 digs in the rematch between Region XVI opponents.
Laitinen finished with nine kills and 12 digs overall, Marija Jovanovic dished out 20 assists and Tisha Meyer made 22 digs for Mineral Area, which seized control of game one with an impressive 8-0 scoring streak.
Jovanovic sparked the run by finding a vacant spot with a nifty two-handed push, and Meghan Dohogne followed her own resounding stuff-block by tipping down an overpass off the ensuing serve.
Sophomore Kelly Kosmopolis had a team-high six rejections in addition to Dohogne’s five for the Lady Cardinals, who capped the successful stanza when a double-block from Warren and Kosmopolis clipped the sideline.
But MAC struggled with a lapse in passing and overall timing, and saw game three slip away quickly. Dumancic crushed a quick set to the middle and Simpson converted a remarkable dig by Pouliezos for a 10-3 margin.
Two kills from Laitinen along the left side trimmed the difference to 12-8, but Jefferson regrouped to score the next four points, and pulled away to a 23-12 advantage on Katelynn Smreker’s solo block.
Mineral Area, which dropped to 1-2 in region play, posted only three kills and trailed 21-7 during a more lopsided fourth game, as the Lady Vikings continued to pound away at the net.
The MAC Invitational takes place this weekend with the host squad playing two Friday and two Saturday matches at the Bob Sechrest Fieldhouse.