PARK HILLS – Few moments energized fans of the Mineral Area volleyball team this season like blistering spikes by outside hitter Jane Kickham off pinpoint ball movement from setter Pam Zuluaga.
That combination clicked throughout a historic run to consecutive national tournament appearances by Lady Cardinals, who finished sixth in the country while posting a stellar 36-2 record.
The gradual elevation of the MAC program over recent years received further validation Thursday, when the NJCAA announced its postseason Division I All-America teams.
Zuluaga became the first player at Mineral Area to ever land First Team all-America distinction, thanks to a high level of consistency amplified by her role of setting all six rotations.
Zuluaga had 10.36 assists per set to rank ninth in the nation. Versatility also contributed to her success after placing second for the Lady Cardinals with 49 aces and third with 400 total digs.
Kickham used her eye-catching vertical leap to pound attacks over much taller blockers, and overcame a previous back injury to earn all-America Honorable Mention.
Another major contributor within of a dazzling sophomore nucleus at Mineral Area, Kickham recorded a team-high 386 kills on the season while finishing fourth in digs.
Zuluaga and Kickham were also dangerous from the back line, as both possessed topspin jump serves that often sparked lengthy scoring runs.
The Lady Cardinals have three all-American honorees on their outgoing roster after outside hitter Cailey Bracken picked up Honorable Mention last year as a freshman.
Bracken was recently named to the all-NJCAA Tournament team.
Mineral Area opened this season with 35 consecutive victories, dropping only five sets along the way.