MELISSA — Injuries and illness struck Melissa’s Lady Cardinals hard last week but the team still rolled past Class 4A Wichita Falls Hirschi in non-district volleyball action on Friday. With Brooklee Waltrip, Abbey Maldonado, KG Matthews and Ally Stinton unable to take the court, several Lady Card teammates got valuable playing time and Melissa came away with a 25-16, 25-15, 25-22 sweep at home.


Allie Norton, Saniah Anthony, Alexis McCombs, Mallorie Power and Paityn Garlington were called on to step up and that can only help Melissa down the road. Lady Cards head coach Frank DePaolo noted that he always tells his players to be ready. “I feel like it will [now] be easier for them to go in at a moment’s notice,” he said.


“[Offensively], I think we showed some roughness from only having two days to work together. We weren’t in sync. The toughest position to get synced is your middles and your setters. It was a tough sync tonight.”


“Serve-receive was better. We’re working on it and we’re progressing at that. Communication is getting a little bit better. We’ve adjusted on some people’s roles in serve-receive.”


Caroline Kasson put up a match-high 21 kills for Melissa (22-5) and libero Chelsea George logged three service aces and 14 digs – both team highs. Power added two aces while Garlington posted 15 set-assists and Ella Branson chipped in 11.


In Set 1, Melissa led, 9-6, after Kenzie Segleski’s back-to-back big swings to the middle. The Lady Huskies crept back to within 10-9 before Kasson blasted an outside kill down the line and Norton followed with a right-side slap for a 13-9 edge. Norton came back with one from the outside and Kasson’s sharp kill to the middle soon caught a Hirschi back-row defender flush in the face. Now down, 12-18, the Lady Huskies struggled to recover. Ally Marshall’s kill and ace down the stretch helped boost Melissa’s lead to 21-15 before consecutive kills from McCombs, Anthony and Norton ended it.


Hirschi got some traction in Set 2, moving out to a 7-3 advantage with three kills. Kasson’s shot down the right line drew the Lady Cards back to even at 8-8 before George’s ace put Melissa on top. After a Lady Huskies timeout, the lead went to 16-11 on McCombs’ kill to the middle. The strongest kill of the match, an outside-to-middle job by Kasson, followed by Segleski’s right-side kill put the Lady Cards up, 20-14. Anthony soon tipped an outside kill for a 21-15 Melissa lead and from there, four-straight Lady Huskies hitting errors closed out the set.


In Set 3, Hirschi fought to stay alive - battling to six ties. But from 21-all, Marshall’s kill to the middle put the Lady Cards ahead for good. Norton followed with another swing to the middle and Kasson clinched the match with an outside kill off a Lady Huskies blocker.


On Sept. 10, Melissa rallied from two sets down to defeat Class 4A North Lamar at Paris, 20-25, 15-25, 25-18, 25-16, 15-13.


The Lady Cards open district play Sept. 27 at Anna.