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Mineral Area finds groove after early test from STLCC

Mineral Area middle hitter Kyndal Dodd (12) attacks against St. Louis blockers Kaylee Gerwitz (20) and Kylee Ball (18) during game two volleyball action on Wednesday in Park Hills. (Matt King,

PARK HILLS – After threatening to steal the first game from Mineral Area in comeback fashion, visiting St. Louis safely served into reliable hands across the set.

A perfect pass from libero Summer Meyer and equally crisp set by fellow sophomore Alandry Below enabled Giovanna Mye Onitsuka Ishii to blister a clinching kill along the left side.

The Cardinals converted their third set point under pressure, then coasted through the remainder of a 25-23, 25-12, 25-8 victory in the home opener on Wednesday evening.

Ishii landed five of her nine kills during game one, and also collected seven assists while splitting the setting duties with Below, a returning all-region performer.

Mariana de Carvalho added seven kills plus eight digs, and middle hitter Payton Roberts spearheaded a dominant third stanza for Mineral Area (5-0).

Mineral Area libero Summer Meyer directs an overhead pass during game two volleyball action against St. Louis on Wednesday in Park Hills. (Matt King,

Meyer made 10 digs, and Below totaled 21 assists with six digs. Katie Huster contributed three service aces with six digs as the Cardinals maintained a streak of straight-set victories this season.

St. Louis (0-11) attempted to disrupt that trend as a decisive underdog, and coaxed a timeout from MAC coach Tim Copeland after taking a 16-14 lead.

The Cardinals were caught out of position on multiple line kills in game one, and twice allowed overpass digs to land untouched in their back row.

Farmington graduate Kaylee Gerwitz brought early energy for the Archers with three kills and a couple of challenging digs, but the size advantage of the Cardinals eventually made a difference.

Kyndal Dodd, who played basketball last school year, sent back two incoming spikes ahead of a STLCC hitting error, and Vitoria Campos Mello ripped a tying kill on the next point.

Mineral Area moved in front on a kill from Layane Lima da Conceicao after Meyer reacted to an Ishii dig for the bump assist. De Carvalho followed with a jumping ace for a 20-18 lead.

Kylee Ball powered a defiant stand by St. Louis at the net by slamming eight of her match-high 11 kills in game one. But the comeback bid ultimately stalled at 24-23.

de Carvalho executed a smooth roll shot to produce one of the seven ties of game two at 5-5, and the Cardinals began to pull away a few minutes later.

A missed back-row spike and two subsequent passing errors resulted in a 15-9 cushion for the home team. Roberts put together a 7-0 service run that concluded at 22-10.

Campos answered a stellar dig by Archers defender Isabelle Sapp with a cross-court smash to help punctuate game two. The final stanza transpired even faster.

Roberts began game three with a stuff block, and tipped down an overpass for a 4-0 lead. She then rotated back to equal her previous 7-0 streak for a commanding 14-2 advantage.

Mineral Area outside hitter Giovanna Mye Onitsuka Ishii spikes during game three volleyball action against St. Louis on Wednesday in Park Hills. (Matt King,

A leaping back-set from Below to Ishii made the margin 15-4, and the Cardinals began to employ frequent substitutions down the stretch.

Farmington graduate Grace Duncan served four points once checking in, and delivered the transition pass before Amiyah Saxton spiked her second straight kill on the final rally.

Sapp finished with eight digs, and Tatum Langmade chipped in six more for St. Louis.

Mineral Area defensive specialist Grace Duncan receives a St. Louis serve during game three volleyball action on Wednesday in Park Hills. (Matt King,

MAC will take on four opponents in a tournament starting Friday at Southeastern Iowa.

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