The Tyler Junior College Apache Ladies are one win away from a volleyball national championship.
TJC (34-4) rallied to score a 3-2 win over Salt Lake (Utah) Community College in the semifinals of the NJCAA Division I National Volleyball Tournament on Friday at the Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyo.
The Apache Ladies, ranked No. 2 in the nation, will face Texas rival Blinn in the final at 7:30 p.m. (CST) Saturday.
Blinn, ranked No. 1 with a 39-3 record, scored a 3-0 win over No. 5 Hillsborough (Fla.) in the other semifinal. The Lady Bucs won 25-20, 25-22, 25-17.
This will be the fifth meeting between TJC and Blinn, and the Lady Bucs have won all four thus far. Those are the only losses for the Apache Ladies this season.
Salt Lake and Hillsborough will play for third place at 5:30 p.m.
TJC vs. Salt Lake
The Apache Ladies, coached by Ronda Shirley, found themselves behind 2-1 before rallying and forcing a fifth set.
TJC won the dramatic semifinal 17-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-14, 15-12 to reach the national final for the first time. The Apache Ladies finished fifth in the nation last year.
Leading the way for Tyler was Kaitlyn Brooks, who had 52 assists and 10 digs. Brooks is a sophomore from Sugar Land.
In kills, a couple of East Texas freshmen led the way. Overton's Abby Mackey had 18 kills, while Savannah Cantrell, of Lindale, added 13. Morgan Lewis, a freshman from Wichita Falls, added 13 kills. Jordan McArdle, a sophomore from Crosby, added nine kills.
Hannah Robey, a sophomore from Longview, led with 17 kills. Mackey added 13 digs, while Cantrell contributed 12.
Other contributors were Malicia Fluellen (sophomore, Channelview), Rilee Miller (freshman, Tyler) and Jacqueline Perez (sophomore, Baytown).
Carol Grasso led the Bruins with 18 kills, followed by Mariana Pilon with 13. Baylie Henrie had 41 assists and 15 digs.