On Saturday Feb. 24, the 8th grade participated in the Hamilton County Jr. High Invitational.
‘We knew we were going to have a challenging day, especially when we saw the pool we were in,” Coach Melton said.
First, the Cards met Johnston City and after shaking off some early mistakes, the 8th grade squad won 25-17, 25-11.
After sitting one match, the Jr. Cardinals met Herrin.
“Herrin was 12-1 and had beaten some major schools, plus they are a much bigger school that we are,” Melton said.
However, in true NCOE fashion, the team battled the Tigers and won the first set 25-20. The second set was also a tough one, but the Cards fell 17-25. Finally, the Herrin attack could not be overcome, and the Cards fell 4-15.
“It was a super match, and we pushed more than they expected,” Melton said.
The third match in pool play pitted the Cards against Carterville. The Lions are given Herrin a good match so the team knew they were going to have to be up for them.
The first set was close, at the Cardinals won 25-19. The NCOE squad carried their momentum into the second set and they won 25-11.
That win gave NCOE a 2-1 record in their pool and moved them into the 3rd place game where they met Zeigler. The Cards won 25-19, 25-17.
“This match was slower and the girls struggled at times, but they pulled enough energy to finish the match,” Melton stated.
On the day, Erin Wicker led the scoring with 28 point as Kenlee Cole was right behind with 26. Hollan Everett had 20, Hallie Roper and Bree Vollman had 11 points apiece, with Meagan Healy serving 5 and Kirsten Cacia two.
At the net, Everett led the day with 24 kills, and Roper added 15. Healy had 10, Vollman 6, Wicker 4 and Cacia 1. Vollman ran the offense with 43 assists. Wicker had 5 and Everett 4. One each was recorded by Roper, Healy and Cole.
Defensively, Roper had 16 digs, followed by Healy with 15 and Everett with 12. Cole had 9, kicker 8, Cacia 7, and Vollman 6. Everett also had 5 blocks and Roper 2.
The Cards ended the day at 3-1 and third in the tournament. They are now 14-3.