After a school-record-setting 38 wins and a trip to the state volleyball tournament for the first time in school history, the post-season awards for Melissa’s Lady Cardinals are rightly abundant. “What an ending to a great year,” Melissa head coach Frank DePaolo said on Monday.
Leading off, three Lady Cards — senior outside hitter Susan Blake, senior setter Charley Lane and junior outside hitter Caroline Kasson — were named to the Class 4A All-State team by the Texas Girls Coaches Association. DePaolo noted that only one other Lady Cardinal — Riley Duzenack in 2015 - has ever made an All-State team. Melissa was also the only 4A squad to have three All-State selections this year.
In addition, Kasson earned a spot on TCGA’s Class 1A-4A All-Star Red Team and also made the six-member All-Tournament team at state — two more firsts for Melissa volleyball.
“What made it more impressive to me,” DePaolo said of the All-Tournament nod, “is that Caroline was the only member of the team to not be on a team that made it to the finals.” As for Kasson’s All-Star selection, DePaolo said, “This is a great honor since she is one of 12 athletes selected from all schools in the 1A-4A classifications. And there were only four 4A members on the team.”
Kasson led the Lady Cards in kills, solo blocks, hitting percentage and kill percentage this season and was second in digs and service aces. Numbers to go with that included: 623 kills, 12 solo blocks with 40 total blocks, a .256 hitting percentage, a 40.9 kill percentage, 407 digs and 69 aces.
All-State picks Blake and Lane had impressive numbers as well. Blake collected 472 kills, a team-high 84 aces, 25 total blocks and 250 digs while Lane tallied 612 set assists, 40 total blocks, 66 aces, 208 kills and 236 digs.
The District 11-4A co-champion Lady Cards also made a splash on the district superlatives and honors lists. Kasson was the District MVP, freshman Chelsea George earned Libero of the Year and senior Sophia Davis was named Setter of the Year.
Davis recorded 756 set-assists on the season, best on the team, with 64 aces and 251 digs. George dug up a team-high 513 balls with 45 aces and 128 assists.
“I was very pleased with the outcome of the District 11-4A awards,” DePaolo said. “Caroline winning the MVP was not a surprise. She was the Co-MVP last season as the second outside hitter. When she moved into the starting role her stats increased - and her visibility. She was a major contributor in all but one big match down the stretch.
“Also, I’m glad the district coaches recognized that hitters can’t do it alone. Sophia Davis winning Setter of the Year was awesome. I’m so happy for her. Sophia and Caroline were an awesome 1-2 punch.
“I feel Chelsea George as Libero of the Year was a no-brainer, but still — a very high honor for a freshman. The other coaches often want to award seniors and seniors with most of the superlative awards, and rightfully so. But in this case, Chelsea was by far the best libero in the district. I look forward to seeing what she can do next season.
Blake and Lane were tabbed for First-Team honors. “I was disappointed that Charley Lane and Susan Blake did not receive a superlative,” DePaolo said, “but they no doubt deserved to be on First-Team All-District. Besides their great play on the court, and success for three straight years on varsity, their leadership was a major reason for Melissa breaking through to reaching the state tournament for the first time.”
Second Team selections went to senior middle-hitter Anna Fortenberry and sophomore right-side hitter KG Matthews. Receiving Honorable Mention recognition were sophomore Abbey Maldonado, junior Ella Branson and senior Cydney Abbott.
Making the Academic All-District list for Melissa were Lane, George, Davis, Kasson, Blake, Fortenberry, Branson, Maldonado and Alexis McCombs.
Last but not least, Coach DePaolo and his staff - assistant coaches Cambria Alford and Kathy Barton, and manager Hannah Rossell - were named Co-Staff of the Year, along with Sanger.
Congratulations to all the Lady Cards on a stellar season.