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Merced College takes long way to victory

Jessica Casey might want to seek a sponsorship deal with Rolaids.

The Merced College volleyball coaching staff and its supporters could certainly use the intestinal relief after the roller coaster ride the Lady Devils continually take them on throughout a match.

Wednesday's Central Valley Conference contest against West Hills was no different.

MC dominated the opening set 25-11, showcasing a precision passing game and a power offense.

Then as if the first set never happened, the Lady Devils had to grind out the next four.

MC ultimately erased a 2-1 deficit and pulled out the five-set victory 25-11, 25-27, 23-25, 25-22, 15-10.

"I was excited with the start of the game," Casey said. "That's the first time all season we've come out and gotten on somebody.

"Then we just seemed to fall apart."

There was expected to be a bit of a hangover following setter Samantha Bussey's dismissal from the team last week.

Bussey's departure opened a regular spot in MC's rotation for freshman setter Laura Meller.

Meller (13 assists) and sophomore Miki Shido (23 assists) split the setting duties for the Lady Devils (1-2 CVC, 6-7) against West Hills -- with the tandem executing to near perfection in the opening set.

After that, things weren't quite as crisp.

MC's offensive timing veered slightly off and West Hills climbed back into the match.

"I thought it went pretty well," Meller said. "I was comfortable out there.

"I think it was just some communication issues when things got away from us.

"The more I'm in there, the more we'll work through that."

Despite winning games two and three, West Hills (1-2 CVC, 4-5) never appeared in control of the match.

Finally, MC's talent won out.

Nicole Blades bombed away from the outside, recording a match-high 12 kills and Sharde' Carter (5 blocks) and Shannon McMillin (3 blocks, 8 kills) dominated the middle.

"We should be able to beat anyone in this conference," Casey said.

"It's just up to the girls which team shows up."