The Tyler Junior College Apache Ladies opened the NJCAA Division I National Volleyball Tournament with two wins on Thursday in Casper, Wyo. The victories moved TJC into the Final Four, which is being held at the Casper Events Center.
TJC, ranked No. 2 in the nation with a 33-4 record, defeated No. 15 seed Wallace State-Hanceville (Ala.) 3-0 in the first contest and followed with a 3-1 win over No. 10 seed Northwest (Wyo.) in match No. 2.
The Apache Ladies advanced to the semifinals where they will play No. 6 seed Salt Lake (Utah) Community College at 7:30 p.m. (CST) today for the right to advance to the national championship match.
The title match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, while the third-place match is slated for 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Salt Lake (24-6) moved into the semifinals with wins over No. 11 Hill College of Hillsboro; and No. 3 Western Nebraska.
The Bruins won over the Lady Rebels in their first match 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-17). In the quarters, Salt Lake upset the Cougars 3-0 (27-5, 25-19, 25-23).
The Apache Ladies opened up by cruising past Wallace State (30-16), 25-15, 25-12, 25-21.
Morgan Lewis (Wichita Falls freshman) led the way with 16 kills, while Jordan McArdle (Crosby sophomore) added 15, followed by Abby Mackey (Overton freshman) with six and Malicia Fluellen (Channelview sophomore) with four.
Kaitlyn Brooks (Sugar Land sophomore) set up her teammates with 38 assists.
In the digs department, Hannah Robey (sophomore, Longview) led with 13, followed by Jacqueline Perez (sophomore, Baytown) (8), Rilee Miller (freshman, Tyler) (8), Brooks (5), Mackey (5) and Lewis (4).
Montana Clark led the Alabama squad with seven kills, followed by Syretha Pride with six. Pacing the Lady Lions in assists were BreAnna Thompson (12) and Nicole Penny (10).
The win moved the Apache Ladies into the all-important winners bracket and into the quarterfinals.
TJC was taking on the state of Wyoming in the second match as Casper adopted Northwest College, of Powell, Wyo., as their own.
In the quarterfinals, the Apache Ladies heated up as the temperatures dipped to 7 degrees outside during the evening.
Tyler defeated the Trappers 25-21, 26-24, 22-25, 27-24 to move on to the semis.
The contest was tight, but TJC's tough schedule helped the Apache Ladies get the win.
Once again it was a team effort for coach Ronda Shirley's squad.
Lewis and McArdle led the Apache Ladies with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Mackey added 10 kills, followed by Fluellen (8) and Savannah Cantrell (6).
Brooks had 47 assists for TJC, while Perez (15), Robey (13), Miller (12) and Mackey (9) paced the digs.
NOTES: Casper will host the national tournament in 2014 and 2015 as well.