PARK HILLS – Seven sophomores were honored on Wednesday night before the Mineral Area volleyball team hosted and commanded its regular season finale.
The Lady Cardinals soared past conference rival East Central 25-15, 25-16, 25-12 in their final tune-up before plotting a postseason push toward a hopeful third straight NJCAA tournament berth.
Outside hitter Katie Duncan recorded 17 kills – her second-highest total of the season – on 28 attacks while converting seven in a row during an early portion of the match.
Shelby Meyer made 23 digs, and Laura Danezzi spread out 36 assists as Mineral Area (24-3) remained unbeaten at Sechrest Fieldhouse and ended 4-0 in MCCAC play.
The Lady Cardinals will face either MSU-West Plains or Jefferson in the Region 16 championship final Saturday at noon, and host a four-team district playoff bracket the following weekend.
Cindy Penaloza showed an increased presence along the back row with nine digs, and equaled Raylyn Dodd with seven kills each from the middle. Isidora Stojovic knocked down six kills for MAC.
Duncan connected on three spikes in a span of four consecutive points, and Mineral Area extended an 8-6 advantage in game one to 18-9.
Emily Greif reacted calmly on a near sideways dig, and directed a pinpoint pass to Duncan for her sixth kill on set point after Stojovic and Penaloza kept the momentum rolling.
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Danezzi served to create an overpass that Stojovic easily put away, and dropped an ace on the next point as Mineral Area built a sizable 12-5 lead in game two.
Duncan finished off two rallies that were saved by stellar defense from Meyer, first a sliding dig to her right at 15-7, then with alert net coverage on set point after East Central stuffed an attack.
Ainslee Finch compiled 12 digs to bolster Mineral Area, and perhaps her two best occurred on the same losing rally early in game three, just moments before Danezzi executed a remarkable pancake dig.
One of two Farmington graduates on the squad along with Greif, Finch flung herself for a save in the far back corner, then popped to her feet and resisted an immediate smash from the middle.
Megan Blair chipped in two kills plus a block after taking the floor, and Sydni Basler served three aces during a single rotation as seven straight MAC points made the margin 16-4.
Dodd tacked on a scoring tap and ensuing solo block at 21-8, and Meyer dealt an ace on match point, sending the Lady Cards to a perfect 6-0 mark at home.
Greif ended with eight digs, and Dodd provided three blocks in the win. Sophomore Melissa Avendano had four kills, and Baylie Petry terminated her lone attack from the left side.