DENTON – Melissa’s Lady Cardinals ran up their season record to 8-1 after four wins and a loss at the ASC/Nike volleyball tournament at Denton Ryan High School, Aug. 11-12. In their opener on Friday, the Lady Cards dispatched Class 2A Poolville by a line of 25-16, 25-20.
In that one, Melissa was led by sophomore Caroline Kasson who collected 8 kills, 14 digs and 4 service aces, all team-highs. Freshman KG Matthews, in her second start of this year, posted 5 kills for the Lady Cards. Senior libero Brittany Melcher added 10 digs for Melissa while junior setters Sophia Davis and Charley Lane combined for 20 set assists, with Davis tallying 14.
In Set 1, a Matthews kill and a Melcher ace had Melissa up, 3-2, early. Kasson’s kill pushed the lead to 6-3 and a big hit from senior Aubrey Grantham made it 8-4. The set moved to rout status after a service ace from Ella Branson, and consecutive kills from Kasson sent the Lady Cards’ advantage to 16-7. A nice dig by Lane allowed Kasson’s next kill, moving the margin to 20-10. Melissa moved to 24-16 fueled by another Grantham kill and Lane’s dink over the net to open spot. A Lady Monarch ball into the net ended the set.
Poolville’s play improved in Set 2, an encounter that featured six ties in the early going. During that time, the Lady Monarchs were able to piece together back-to-back short runs of three and four points.
“They really had one hitter that they were going to a lot,” DePaolo said. “They were sitting her on the back row. So we emphasized our back-row attack defense and made sure that we were getting three girls deep enough. In the back, we were getting stuck by staying shallow. We also ran a new play that we hadn’t run before during that just to get us back.”
With Poolville up, 16-14, Lane was forced to leave the game with apparent leg pain. On the bench, ice packs were taped to both of her shins and she did not return.
“She’s having a little bit of an issue with her shins right now,” DePaolo said. “She’s been dealing with it for all of two-a-days. Ice usually helps a lot.”
Melissa soon tied the set at 16-all then led, 22-19, after Anna Fortenberry’s service ace to the face of a Poolville defender. A Matthews’ ace pushed the Lady Cards’ lead to 23-20 and soon a Davis ace closed out the best-of-three match for Melissa.
DePaolo noted a key moment in the Lady Cards’ Set 2 comeback – and it included Melissa’s theme for the season. “Forcing them to call another timeout with us up, 20-16, showed a lot of grit,” he said. “And that’s our key word this year: grit. It’s just playing and never giving up no matter what the score is.”
In their second match on Friday, the Lady Cards thumped the Class 5A South Hills Lady Scorpions, 25-15, 25-23. Melissa closed out the day with a 25-22, 25-13 win over Class 3A Ponder. On Day 2, playing in the Gold bracket, the Lady Cards survived a 25-21, 25-22 battle with Hockaday before falling to Callisburg, 25-20, 25-17.