HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Cailey Bracken was called upon to deliver crucial kills as the Mineral Area volleyball team played its most intense match of the season last Friday at the NJCAA Tournament.
The sophomore outside hitter pounded two huge swings to the floor when the fifth set appeared to be slipping away against Iowa Western, which stood just two points from victory.
She then landed a courageous tap shot over a double block to snap a 14-14 tie, and the Lady Cardinals ultimately took down the second-ranked Reivers in a show-stealing thriller.
Bracken finished that contest with a season-high 21 kills along with 15 digs, and Mineral Area achieved its best finish in three NJCAA appearances by taking sixth overall.
Her consistent performance over the course of four matches was not unnoticed. Bracken was selected among 13 just players to the all-tournament team at the conclusion of the event.
Although the Lady Cardinals lost the fifth-place clash against Polk State (Fla.), Bracken helped to ignite a stunning denial of nine match points after trailing the fourth set 24-16.
She compiled 19 kills, nine digs and three blocks, and Mineral Area posted a final record of 36-2 that included the first perfect regular season in school history.
Bracken produced her most efficient outing of the tournament during a first-round triumph over Laramie County (Wyo.) with 17 kills on 30 attacks.
The former all-state star at DuBourg High School in St. Louis became the first Mineral Area volleyball player chosen for all-America status last year, obtaining Honorable Mention as a freshman.
Massiel Mantos was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament after leading 34-0 Miami Dade to a second straight national title.