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Mineral Area clinches top seed in region

PARK HILLS – When visiting MSU-West Plains was unable to drive attacks through Cindy Penaloza and Raylyn Dodd, several attempts to work around them missed the mark in game four.

Ninth-ranked Mineral Area commanded the middle of the net on Wednesday night, and finished 4-0 in regular-season Region 16 volleyball for a second consecutive year.

Penaloza totaled 16 kills with four solo blocks, and Dodd provided 12 kills with six blocks to propel the Lady Cardinals 25-19, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20.

The match offered extra incentive besides treating the larger crowd gathered in conjunction with the Midnight Madness preseason basketball activities.

Mineral Area (23-3, 4-0) clinched the top seed and automatic spot in the Region 16 championship final, and is guaranteed to host a subsequent four-team district playoff in November.

Katie Duncan connected on 13 kills from the outside, and setter Laura Danezzi compiled 42 assists while joining four other Lady Cardinals with double-figure digs.

A pivotal sequence occurred late in game two after MAC squandered a late five-point advantage with a chance to secure a two-set advantage.

MSU-West Plains (11-15, 1-2) trailed 22-17 following a big kill by Isidora Stojovic, but responded with five straight points. Julia Dunning landed a tying ace after her previous one crawled over the net.

Dodd put the Lady Cards back in front 23-22, however, and Shelby Meyer earned a crucial ace. The Grizzlies saved the initial game point, but a good pass by Melissa Avendano enabled Danezzi to set Penaloza for the capper.

Duncan drilled her second straight kill off a diving save by Sydni Basler earlier in the game, and Mineral Area gained important separation at 17-14.

Ainslee Finch equaled Danezzi and Basler with a team-high 13 digs while Meyer and Emily Greif brought up 12 apiece for a remarkably balanced performance on the back row.

MSU-West Plains erased a 10-6 deficit to get even at 15-15 in game one, but the Lady Cardinals elevated their level of execution to secure a favorable start.

Danezzi disguised a well-timed flick over the net to make it 19-17, and Avendano terminated from the right side after Finch handled a blistering West Plains swing to create a key transition.

Dodd stamped game one with a stuff-block two points later, and was involved in many timely situations as Mineral Area polished off the victory.

The Grizzlies claimed game three by capitalizing late on a few errant passes, but not without wasting a quality opening rotation.

The visitors jumped ahead 5-0 with the help of two scoring blocks, but Penaloza heated up with multiple smashes on quick sets and helped MAC overtake them for an 11-9 advantage.

Camilly Cristiny answered with solid hitting from the left side within another momentum shift, giving MSU-West Plains a 22-19 edge that was protected by an ensuing double block.

Stojovic collected seven kills, and her solo block ignited a final surge that ushered the Lady Cardinals across the finish line while extending a 13-11 lead in game four.

Dodd deposited two overpass miscues from the Grizzlies and later rejected a twisting spike from the 10-foot line after Duncan rifled a line attack into the deep corner for a 20-14 spread.

Penaloza added another hard kill and block to present match point, and Dodd wrapped up the win by tipping into an open spot and deceiving the defense.

Meyer and Basler each had 15 serve receptions for Mineral Area, which will conclude the regular season on Tuesday while honoring its sophomores prior to the match against East Central.

Mineral Area sophomore middle Raylyn Dodd (12) times her leap for a set from freshman Laura Danezzi during a home match earlier this season. The Lady Cardinals defeated MSU-West Plains on Wednesday night, and improved to 4-0 in the region.

Mineral Area sophomore middle Raylyn Dodd (12) times her leap for a set from freshman Laura Danezzi during a home match earlier this season. The Lady Cardinals defeated MSU-West Plains on Wednesday night, and improved to 4-0 in the region.

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