Melrose freshman Kelley Wagley sets the ball to a teammate during the third game of Tuesday’s District 3-1A volleyball tournament match against Dora at Melrose. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
MELROSE — The fourth-seeded Melrose Lady Buffaloes are headed to the second round of the District 3-1A tournament after beating fifth-seeded Dora 25-13, 25-8, 25-20 in the opening round of the tournament on Tuesday night.
Melrose (9-9) played without starting setter Zanessa Dodd and sophomore Laney Widner, who were both away on an FFA activity. Lady Buffs coach Sonja Moyer said freshman setter Kelley Wagley played well in her first significant starting action of the year, filling in for Dodd.
“She stepped in really well, and the girls passed well for her,” Moyer said. “I was really proud of the way they passed, and they were talking, they were real relaxed, and that’s something we haven’t had all year.”
The Lady Buffs jumped ahead 4-1 in the first game, but Dora came back to take its only lead of the night, at 8-7, on a kill by sophomore outside hitter Kendra Merrick.
Melrose promptly put together a 9-0 run, including an ace from junior Toni Burdine and a kill from senior Lauren Widner, and finished the game with 18 of the final 23 points.
The Lady Buffs dominated in the second game, bolting to a 14-2 cushion on the strength of two aces from senior Kimberly Lyons and several kills by junior outside hitter TaNeil Roberts. The Lady Coyotes took three of the next four points, but were never able to mount a serious rally.
Melrose ran off to leads of 5-1 and 12-3 in the third game. Dora (6-14), which did not win a district match this season, closed the gap to four with an 11-6 run, including a block and several kills from eighth-grader Kelli Merrick, before the Lady Buffs put the match away.
Dora coach Myra Skinner said her squad on Tuesday included three eighth-graders, a freshman and two sophomores, and she noted that the Lady Coyotes refused to give up.
“The future looks bright,” Skinner said. “We didn’t quit, we played until that last point, and that is a plus.”
Melrose travels to Floyd for a 7 p.m. second-round match today. The winner advances to a Thursday semifinal at Fort Sumner, with the championship match set for 2 p.m. Saturday at unbeaten and top-seeded Elida.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Moyer said. “It’ll definitely be an interesting match. We haven’t played them with this setter, so it will be something different.
“If we play like we played tonight, I have a good feeling about it.”