Head coach Tim Copeland hoped that his Mineral Area volleyball team would be seeded higher than its No. 8 ranking after clinching a berth in the NJCAA tournament last weekend.

The Lady Cardinals (34-0) – one of just two unbeaten clubs remaining in the nation – landed the No. 6 seed in the bracket as announced on Tuesday afternoon.

Mineral Area will face No. 11 seed Laramie County (32-6) in the opening round on Thursday, Nov. 16, at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kan.

The winner of that contest will play again that evening against either No. 3 Southern Idaho or No. 14 Eastern Arizona in the national quarterfinals.

The Lady Cardinals have made two previous appearances at the event in 2011 and 2016, finished 10th overall each time after battling back through consolation action.

The current experienced roster, which includes five players from last year’s NJCAA qualifier, is looking for a higher showing. Mineral Area has lost only five sets all season.

Reigning national champion Miami Dade (30-0), Iowa Western (37-1), Southern Idaho (28-3) and Western Nebraska (32-6) represent the top four seeds.

The MAC offense is led by outside hitters Jane Kickham at 3.34 kills per set and Cailey Bracken at 2.88 kills per set. Setter Pam Zuluaga averages 10.44 assists per set.

Freshman libero Shelby Meyer picks up 5.56 digs each game, and has served 48 aces to share team-high honors with Zuluaga. Raylyn Dodd and Anica Popadic have solidified the middle blocker positions.

Mineral Area traveled to Hutchinson earlier this season, and swept four opponents from Texas during a weekend tournament, including a 5-game triumph over Odessa.

The Lady Cardinals also posted multiple wins over Region 16 rivals Jefferson and MSU-West Plains within a single season for the first time in school history.



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