HILLSBORO, Mo. – Farmington graduate Jelena Gray factored heavily into a crucial sequence when Jefferson scored four straight points to steal the opening set from Mineral Area.
The Vikings then capitalized on a plethora of miscues by the Cardinals, and rolled to a 25-23, 25-17, 25-20 sweep in the Region 16 volleyball opener for both teams on Wednesday.
Maju Vieira compiled a match-high 12 kills with six digs, and Gray totaled eight kills, 11 digs and two service aces as Jefferson (8-4, 1-0) won its fourth straight contest.
Mineral Area (8-2, 0-1) trailed throughout most of game one, but drew even at 19-19 on a lethal jump-serve from Mariana de Carvalho that touched down for an ace.
Vitoria Campos and Payton Roberts later combined for a double block, and Layane Lima spiked for a 23-21 lead off a fast transition from libero Summer Meyer and setter Alandry Below.
Too many errant passes and attacks ultimately cost the Cardinals. Gray answered with a big left-side kill, and Summer Hake slammed an overpass to tie the opener.
One of the best exchanges of the match followed, as Gray and libero Julia Reis made three digs each for Jefferson while Below and Meyer had multiple stops on the other side.
Below tried to surprise the Vikings with a dink on second contact, but Reis was prepared with the pass, and Vieria drilled the go-ahead kill before a solo block by Hake sealed the stanza.
Mineral Area grabbed a quick 3-0 edge in game two, but ultimately yielded 12 of the next 17 points scored by the Vikings on miscues.
Jefferson bolted to an 8-4 advantage, and pushed it to 15-8 on a kill to the opposite corner from Gray after Sydney Burris and Vieira joined forces on a block.
De Carvalho landed a crafty roll shot down the line, and belted her fourth kill of the set at 23-16. But Gray sent her squad to a two-game cushion with a strong outside swing.
Burris connected for seven kills, and Hake equaled Branch with six apiece on 33 assists by Alina Bertens. Reis picked up 15 digs, and Maci Nolie produced seven more in the victory.
De Carvalho totaled eight kills plus six digs, and Lima knocked down five kills as Mineral Area employed several lineup changes in search of a comeback spark.
But the Vikings executed well to begin game three, and took a 7-4 lead on a Nolie ace that followed a cross-court bullet from Branch. Hake rifled another from the middle at 13-7.
The Cardinals closed to within 13-10 when a block from Giovanni Ishii preceded a kill by Lima. However, the margin never became closer down the stretch.
Katie Huster provided a marvelous defensive rally in defeat, sprinting to save a bad pass well beyond the back line and hustling back to overhead pass the next attack. Roberts capitalized with a kill at 17-12.
Below finished with 14 assists, and matched Huster with seven digs. Meyer had a team-high 11 digs at libero while Ishii and Campos chipped in three kills each for MAC.
Huster served two aces, and Kyndal Dodd made two blocks for Mineral Area, which will compete in four matches this weekend at the Vincennes Blazer Classic.