Melissa’s Lady Cardinals closed out their district-championship season with a four-set win at Bonham on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The Lady Cards (9-1, 26-9) had claimed the district title one match earlier at Celina and had little to gain versus the Lady Warriors (1-9) — a factor in their 16-25 setback in Set 1, Melissa head coach Frank DePaolo said.


“It was (Bonham’s) Senior Night,” De Paolo said. “They came out really excited and we didn’t have anything left to play for, except to play for pride.”


The Lady Cards roared back to take three straight sets, 25-19, 25-10, 25-10, and now begin to focus solely on the playoffs. “It exposed us to a few things that we still need to work on,” DePaolo said of the Bonham experience. “There are some issues that we’ve got to work out before our first playoff match on Monday.”


Melissa will face Crandall in the Class 4A Region 2 bi-district playoff round on Monday, Oct. 30, at Rockwall High School.


The Lady Cards’ win at Bonham was their seventh-straight, which completed DePaolo’s goal for the team after their loss to Aubrey on Sept. 29: win-out and win district. “When you say, ‘Hey, if you win-out you win district,’ obviously it’s something you reach for,” he said. “It’s not something that you know is going to happen, it’s something you hope can happen. But going through a district like ours, and knowing how tough Celina was — not having played them yet — and then how tough Aubrey was going to be again, it’s a tough chore.”


Of Melissa’s 49 kills versus the Lady Warriors, junior Susan Blake slapped 15, followed by sophomore Caroline Kasson with 12, freshman KG Matthews and senior Aubrey Grantham with seven each, and junior Anna Fortenberry with three. Sophomore Ella Branson posted a team-high a 2.5 passing rating and senior libero Brittany Melcher was next with a 2.09.


Melissa recorded just one block versus the Lady Warriors, with 101 digs — the same dig-total the team posted in five sets at Celina. DePaolo noted the direct correlation there: no blocks means more digs.


“It’s a different brand of volleyball,” he said of facing Bonham. “They don’t hit real hard. It’s more placement — like, put it over the block and in corners and stuff like that.”


Melcher led the Lady Cards with 23 of those digs while Kasson and junior Sophia Davis collected 22 and 18, respectively. “Sophia did a great job of digging down the line when they got around our block,” DePaolo said.


More Melissa diggers included Branson with eight, Fortenberry with eight and Blake with six. Kasson also registered two of Melissa’s six service aces on the night. The Lady Cards tallied 43 assists, with Davis’ 24 leading the way, followed by Lane’s six and Melcher’s three from the back row.