UNION, Mo. – In action for the first time since trading power with Jefferson in a five-set slugfest, the Mineral Area volleyball team drew a varied defensive assignment on Wednesday evening.
NJCAA Division II program East Central often attacked with tips and shorter swings, and for a little while, managed to disrupt the timing of taller blockers and opposing back row.
The 17th-ranked Cardinals made proper adjustments to cover more of those threats, and rolled to a 25-13, 25-16, 25-16 sweep while staying unbeaten.
Errors plagued the Falcons at the outset, and Mineral Area (7-0) seized an opportunity to set its middle and right-side hitters more frequently ahead of a challenging tournament this weekend in Hutchinson, Kan.
Alayna Rooks, whose four consecutive kills helped the Cardinals survive two match points in Hillsboro last week, would not register her second until game two reached 21-15.
She went on to finish with seven kills plus five digs and a couple of blocks during game three. Mikayla Johnson and Nina Janjic also landed seven kills each in the victory.
MAC welcomed returning sophomore Ksenija Simun and her dangerous jump-serve back to the rotation after missing four of the previous six matches.
Simun made three of her 11 digs in succession during a single rally on the fourth point of game one. The host team punctuated it, however, on a double block by Macy Morehaed and Kilisitina Lutui.
Johnson gave the Cardinals separation with a tipped kill, snapping swing and double block with Janjic on three straight points for an eventual 11-6 lead.
Mya Young provided a solo block and right-side smash to stretch the margin after subbing into the front row, and the Falcons trailed 23-10 following two errant attacks and a misplayed serve.
East Central (8-2) had suffered its lone previous defeat against Jefferson in a sweep, and encountered the same fate as Mineral Area seized early control in the final two sets.
Simun created a couple of overpass kills from the service line, and the Cardinals kept plays alive when necessary to build an insurmountable 11-2 advantage in game two.
MAC hit a sluggish stretch where subpar passes prevented the offense from clicking, but not before surging ahead 19-7 on one of four Johnson blocks.
Olivia Spanley compiled three kills and three blocks in the second stanza, and helped reduce the East Central deficit to 20-15 on a well-read stuff as Rooks was forced into an off-speed attack.
Rooks answered with two big kills off better passes, first firing down the line, and Young followed with two of her own between an excellent lunging save by libero Jillian Schmoll.
The Cardinals never trailed in game three after jumping ahead 4-0, and retaliated with five points in a row once challenged to within 15-13.
Rooks rifled her strongest kill of the night following an ECC service error, and quick reaction on digs by setter Serena Arruda and Simun helped secure the next two rallies.
Chloey Myers made it 22-16 on a pair of right-side placements, and Rooks served an ensuing ace during a final 5-0 scoring run.
Nicole Roeder totaled 16 assists and Arruda added 13 more for Mineral Area. Carolina Zapata shared team-high honors with four blocks, and Schmoll picked up nine digs.
Emily McKinney, Lynnae Grus and Spanley each sent down four kills while Trinity Clark provided nine digs to pace the Falcons.