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Lady Cards sweep Monroe to stay alive

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – The Mineral Area volleyball team had no choice but to leave a controversial and frustrating first-round loss at the NJCAA Tournament in the past on Friday afternoon.

The Lady Cardinals extended their season by eliminating Monroe College (N.Y.) 25-17, 25-21, 25-20 in the consolation bracket behind tough serving and increased middle production.

Sophomore Raylyn Dodd bounced back from a relatively quiet match against Trinity Valley to share six of her team’s nine total blocks while knocking down seven kills.

Cindy Garcia Penaloza paced the Mineral Area attack again with 11 kills on 24 chances. Katie Duncan had eight kills along the outside while setter Laura Danezzi totaled 22 assists plus nine digs.

No. 16 seed Monroe (17-13) was carried offensively by perhaps its smallest but most effective hitters as Tereza Strnadlova and Karla Figueroa had eight and seven kills, respectively.

Ainslee Finch served consecutive aces early, and Mineral Area (28-4) gained separation in game one as kills by Melissa Avendano and Isidora Stojovic created a 14-10 spread.

Penaloza provided a stuff-block at 17-11 after a serve by libero Shelby Meyer could not be handled. A superb 4-0 closing spurt included a Duncan kill, two double blocks involving Dodd, and Basler’s second ace.

The Lady Cardinals were challenged deeper into the next two sets, but never approached serious danger of dropping either after multiple leads evaporated one night earlier.

Dodd ripped a back-set from Danezzi before Penaloza rotated forward for a block and overpass kill in succession during game two. Danezzi dumped the second ball neatly for a 19-12 cushion following an ace by Emily Greif.

The Mustangs responded with a double block from Julia Alves and Guilia La Longa, and closed to within 21-17 when Maria Salazar angled a spike through the MAC defense.

Duncan countered with a calming kill from the left side, and Monroe sent game point sailing wide after Basler made a hustling dig to keep the ball in play.

Mineral Area cleared successfully after Danezzi used her foot to save a deflected shot early in game three, and never trailed after surging ahead 8-3 on consecutive Penaloza kills.

Duncan scored off a reaching dig by Finch, and Basler stretched low preceding a second Dodd spike in a row to establish an 18-9 margin.

Strnadlova ignited a final push by Monroe with three kills and a block during her last rotation across the front, trimming the deficit to 22-19.

But another timely kill from Duncan and one more from Dodd brought the Lady Cardinals to the brink of victory. A service error ended the contest after a Strnadlova solo turned the first match point aside.

Meyer finished with a team-high 10 digs plus three assists for MAC, which advanced to play Hill College on Friday evening. Basler added nine digs, and Stojovic contributed to four blocks.

Monroe was on the negative end of a 24-14 disparity in attacking errors. Nashally Eleutiza brought up 14 digs, and Figueroa made 13 more in defeat.

Mineral Area sophomore Raylyn Dodd tips an overpass for a point against Monroe College middle hitter Julia Alves (4) during game two action in a NJCAA volleyball tournament match on Friday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Mineral Area sophomore Raylyn Dodd tips an overpass for a point against Monroe College middle hitter Julia Alves (4) during game two action in a NJCAA volleyball tournament match on Friday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Mineral Area sophomore Ainslee Finch serves during game two of a NJCAA volleyball tournament match against Monroe College on Friday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Mineral Area sophomore Ainslee Finch serves during game two of a NJCAA volleyball tournament match against Monroe College on Friday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Mineral Area freshman Sydni Basler guides a running pass from the back row during game three of a NJCAA volleyball tournament match against Monroe College on Friday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Mineral Area freshman Sydni Basler guides a running pass from the back row during game three of a NJCAA volleyball tournament match against Monroe College on Friday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Mineral Area freshman Laura Danezzi (8) back-sets during game two of a NJCAA volleyball tournament match against Monroe College on Friday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Mineral Area freshman Laura Danezzi (8) back-sets during game two of a NJCAA volleyball tournament match against Monroe College on Friday in Hutchinson, Kan.

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