MELISSA – In a match most folks expected Melissa’s Lady Cardinals to win handily, they did just that in dispatching Gainesville in straight sets on Friday, 25-12, 25-7, 25-6. The Lady Cards (2-1) dominated this one wire-to-wire with Susan Blake and Caroline Kasson pounding back a match-high 12 kills each and Kasson and Chelsea George posting 12 and 11 digs, respectively. Charley Lane popped up 17 set-assists to lead Melissa while teammate Sophia Davis added 15. Abbey Maldonado swatted two service aces and six other Lady Cards logged single aces.


The win moved Melissa into a tie for second place in the district race with Celina and Sanger, one game back of 3-0 Aubrey.


Lady Cards head coach Frank DePaolo said he was pleased with how his charges took care of business against the struggling Lady Leopards.


“The tendency you’d have would be too kind of lower your level of intensity, play less intense with a little less focus. We didn’t do that. Now we started off with a couple of errors - three of their first five points were serving errors on our part - but after we settled in we pretty much were able to really run our offense. We got to practice a couple of new offensive sets that we’ve been working on. And I really was happy with our ball placement.”


Having to dig balls in spots not normally defended is another tricky part of playing matches like these, DePaolo said. “You really have to stick to the basics of your defense. If you don’t stick to those basics then those surprise balls will be the ones that find the floor. But we didn’t have that.”


The match also provided a chance for Melissa’s entire roster to get playing time.


“Everybody got to play a complete set,” DePaolo said. “Ally Marshal got some time and Alexis McCombs got some time. Also all of our [defensive specialists] and liberos got some playing time in the back.”


For the 0-3 Lady Leopards, the rest of the district slate looks daunting.


“They have a brand new coach, [Tobin Thurman],” DePaolo noted. “He’s trying to turn the program around. He’s got a good start going he just has some work to do, left by the previous coach.”


In district action on Sept. 25, Celina’s Lady Cats (2-0) got by Melissa in straight sets, 25-21, 29-27, 25-18, at Celina High School. Kasson led the Lady Cards with 12 of the team’s 25 kills and Blake added seven. George dug up 20 balls for Melissa and Kasson collected 12 while Blake tallied 10. Of Melissa’s five service aces, Davis and Kasson posted two each and Blake fired one. Maldonado picked up three assist blocks while and Blake got up for one apiece. Davis tallied a team-high 12 assists and Lane added eight.