The Tyler Junior College volleyball team is speeding toward the playoffs while hitting a couple of speed bumps recently.

The Apache Ladies closed out their Region XIV home schedule Thursday with a 25-8, 25-18, 25-17 victory over Lon Morris at Wagstaff Gymnasium.

TJC, ranked No. 6 in the national poll, improved to 22-3 overall and 8-3 in the conference, while Lon Morris fell to 1-21 overall. The Apache Ladies have suffered two defeats in the last two weeks.

There was never a threat of a loss on Thursday with Lon Morris dressing only seven players.

TJC coach Ronda Shirley played her normal lineup the entire first game as the Apache Ladies dominated behind 6-3 Ivana Bulajic, 6-1 Jacqueline Santos and 5-9 Lindsey Jones, who combined for 26 kills for the match.

Shirley used two setters in the second game — when Lon Morris scored its most points — and switched out her front-row hitters to get freshmen Daniela Pena and Charae Caldwell involved.

Sophomore Anuhea Keanini, a standout setter, server and leader, started Game 3 for TJC and notched a couple of assists before retiring to the bench.

The Lady Bearcats responded by winning six points in a row to get within 11-10, a run highlighted by kills from Lauren Thormaehlen and Brooke Stitt and a Thormaehlen ace. Santos stopped the Lon Morris run with a kill and then had a block two points later to make it 14-10.

The Lady Bearcats won the next two points before TJC reeled off three straight to grab control of the final game. Bulajic had four kills in Game 3 to give her 10 overall. Santos added three kills for a total of eight and she also had five blocks.

TJC’s other stat leaders were Jones (eight kills, 10 digs, two blocks), Keanini (21 assists, three aces) and sophomore Bridget Hanafin (three aces).

The Apache Ladies play their final home game Saturday against Temple at 2 p.m. on Sophomore Day. TJC will be the No. 2 seed for the district tournament, which will be held at Blinn College in Brenham on Nov. 4-5.

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