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Cardinal Mooney coasts to win over Merritt PHOTO GALLERY

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Cardinal Mooney coach Dennis Caulfield should've been ecstatic after his squad easily defeated Merritt, 25-9, 25-5 and 25-4 in its Class D district quarterfinal match on Monday night at Parkway Christian.

Judging by his comments afterward, Caulfield wasn't very happy.

"Thank God we served well because with our floor performance, we really didn't play well," Caulfield said. "It's great to move on, but I told the girls they have to pick up their game. Our serving saved us."

Merritt raced to a 3-0 lead in Game 1 on three service points by Meghan Milligan, before Mooney seized control behind Michelle Rovito's 11 straight service points, gaining a 14-4 lead. Abbey Guillat added four more points, pushing the lead to 19-5, and the Cardinals never looked back.

"I think we were intimated," Merritt coach Kaylee Smith said. "They were saying before we got here that Cardinal Mooney is so good and we can never beat Cardinal Mooney. I'm disappointed because this isn't how we normally play."

Mooney carried the momentum into Game 2, racing to a 16-4 lead behind four service points each by Julia Kukawka and Calista Chaltron, and two by Rovito. Guillat finished the set with eight straight service points.

"We played against teams that served much harder than Mooney did tonight and tonight we were standing flat-footed and straight up," Smith said. "They weren't doing what we practice every day."

The Cardinals kept their foot on the gas pedal in the final set, racing to an 8-0 lead on seven service points by Lilly Wolf and never looked back.

"We didn't take Merritt for granted because we don't take any opponent for granted," Caulfield said. "I do think they have that mindset at times. I told them before the game and afterward that we have to respect every opponent. This is one and done, and on any given night, we can be beaten."

Rovito led Mooney with 13 service points, including eight aces, while Guillat added 12 service points, including seven aces. The win improved the Cardinals' record to 27-8-3 overall.

Despite the season-ending loss, Smith said her Merritt squad did make positive strides this season.

"We've definitely grown as a team," Smith said. "We've matured and started playing together as a team which will be good for them as we move forward."

Last Updated: 11/2/2015 10:04:27 PM EST