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Aubrey knocks Lady Cardinals out of 2020 playoffs with 3-2 win

By Rick Bailey
Anna-Melissa Tribune

ANNA - The fourth time was a charm for the Aubrey Chaparrals volleyball team but the Melissa Cardinal squad didn’t go down easy. Melissa (20-10/10-3) fell to the Chaps 3-2 in the Regional Quarterfinal round of the Class 4A UIL State Volleyball playoffs. Set scores were 25-17, 18-25, 25-14, 21-25 and 10-15. The two teams went back and forth like heavyweight fighters in a boxing ring.

After 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 they took care of the Alvarado Indians in short fashion with a 3-0 sweep in the Area match. Set scores were as follows 25-9, 25-10 and 25-14, which showed the consistency of head coach Frank DePaolo’s 2020 squad.

Melissa and Aubrey ended up tied for the second spot in district and played a third match for UIL playoff seeding. The Lady Cardinals got a tough 3-1 (25-10, 23-25, 25-14 and 25-16) victory. 

In their first district meeting of the year Melissa took a tight 3-2 (18-25, 32-30, 24-26, 25-23 and 15-11) win. Going into last Friday’s Regional Quarterfinal battle the two teams were very close to each other and the 3-2 match proved to be just the same.  Melissa beat Aubrey 3-2 and 3-1 while the Chaps did the same to the Cardinals, but the final victory was the most important of the year as Aubrey advanced to face Gilmer in the Regional Semi-Finals.

Statistical leaders for the Lady Cardinals this season include the following. Sophomore Saniah Anthony has led the Cardinals with 252 kills on the season.  Tianna Shellie pitched in up front with 184 kills of her own. 

Junior defensive specialist Chelsea George was tops on the team with 66 aces, 600 digs and 711 successful serve receptions. Melissa has two seniors that carried the load in assists with Janelle DeLaCruz and Paityn Garlington with 493 and 349 assists, respectively. Also on the defensive side Mallorie Power has 306 serve receptions. Senior Abbey Maldanado had 143 kills and 50 blocks and senior Alexis McCombs garnered 140 kills and 54 blocks.

Melissa had a good run again ending the year just short of their last year’s accomplishments. Coach DePaulo’s squad was a combination of youth and experience held over from the 2019 squad. The Lady Cardinals will surely miss seniors Janelle DeLaCruz, Paitlyn Garlington, Abbey Maldanado, Mallorie Power, Alexis McCombs and Liv Withers, but it is a guarantee that Melissa and head coach Frank DePaulo will be back in 2021 with a competitive group.