ARLINGTON – On a court with some of the top high school volleyball players in Texas on July 9, Melissa’s Caroline Kasson clearly stood out. The setting was the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A-1A All-Star game at Arlington High School and, after leading her Red All-Star team to a three-set sweep of the Blues, Kasson was named MVP of the prestigious match.

Kasson stacked a load of kills in the Red squad’s 25-21, 25-17, 25-15 victory, including the team’s first point.

It was the type of performance to which Lady Cardinal fans have become accustomed. Last season, Kasson led Melissa’s 4A state-tournament team with 623 kills, 12 solo blocks, 40 total blocks and a 40.9 kill percentage. She was also second on the team in digs and service aces — 407 and 69, respectively.

Those efforts and more earned Kasson the state’s Class 4A Player of the Year award by the Texas Sports Writers Association and a spot on the All-Tournament team at state, two firsts for Melissa volleyball.

Lady Cards head volleyball coach Frank DePaolo jokingly told Kasson before the All-Star match that the pressure was on as the Red team hadn’t lost in six years.

“I wasn’t worried,” Kasson laughed afterward. “I was just excited to play with a bunch of girls from all around the state and just have some fun with it.”

As for taking the court with girls with whom she hadn’t played before, Kasson said, “It’s just back to basics. You start off there and continue on. During practice it was a little rough, but then we figured it all out with a good rotation, good setters, great hitters, great defense — everything. It was tons and tons of fun.”

Besides DePaolo, also there to cheer Kasson on were plenty of her Melissa teammates, friends and family, as well as Lady Cards assistant coaches Kathy Barton and Steven De Luna.

“It was definitely well-deserved,” DePaolo said of Kasson’s MVP selection. “I thought she was the best player on the court. I think the fact that the coach let her play all the way around for the majority of the game showed the confidence she had in her — in just the couple of hours that she saw her [at practice].

“I was very, very proud of Caroline. … It says a lot about our district, it says a lot about Melissa. Then it also says a lot about her.”

As the match was progressing DePaolo noted, “Caroline’s team is loaded with a bunch of hitters and some good setters. … They don’t have a libero, which is kind of playing into their favor because it’s allowing their front-row players to play all the way around. So there’s back-row attacking, there’s front-row attacking. The other team, I don’t think their hitting is quite as big, but their defense is picking up a lot so they’re keeping themselves in the game.”

Kasson and the Lady Cards begin defense of their 2018 Class 4A Region II championship in August.