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Cardinal volleyball locked, loaded for 2020 playoffs

By Rick Bailey
For the Anna-Melissa Tribune

Melissa - The Cardinal volleyball team knocked off Summit International Prep Academy in convincing fashion 3-0 (25-10, 25-8, 25-10) to advance to the Area round of the Class 4A UIL playoffs. Melissa is scheduled to step on the court against Alvarado on Tuesday, November 3. Alvarado, the fourth place team in District 11-4A defeated Dallas Carter (3-0) in the bi-district round. 

The Cardinals overcame a seeding match against Aubrey with a 3-1 win to get the number two spot entering the playoffs. Melissa (10-3/20-9) is hoping for a return to the regionals and potentially a return trip to the state tournament in 2020. 

Melissa is led by a strong group of returning players from 2019 along with some younger players for head coach Frank DePaolo. Sophomore Saniah Anthony has led the Cardinals with 231 kills on the season. She has had double digit kills in their last four matches including the seeding match victory over Aubrey where she got 21 kills in the win. Tianna Shellie pitched in up front with 172 kills of her own. 

Junior defensive specialist Chelsea George leads the team with 58 aces, 570 digs and 663 successful serve receptions. Melissa has two seniors carrying the load in assists with Janelle DeLaCruz and Paityn Garlington with 439 and 323 assists, respectively. Also on the defensive side Mallorie Power has 291 serve receptions. Abbey Maldanado has 133 kills and 48 blocks. Alexis McCombs garnered 127 kills and 49 blocks.

Melissa is in an extremely tough Region 2 bracket in the UIL volleyball playoffs. District counterpart Celina along with Lindale, Farmersville, Gilmer, Kennedale and Midlothian Heritage are all strong teams in the bracket. The 2020 UIL playoffs will give the Cardinals an opportunity to raise their level of competition and make another deep run to the state championship in Garland.