Three teams, including Tyler Junior College, finished Friday undefeated in the first day of the Dana Hatch Classic volleyball tournament, but still face two more matches.
The Lady Apaches and the Blinn College each survived close second matches, but never lost a single game. Panola College joins their ranks, despite losing a single game in each of its matches.
Play continues Saturday at Wagstaff and Gentry gymnasiums beginning at 10 a.m. on the TJC campus. The tournament is named in honor Hatch, who began the volleyball program at TJC in 1996.
Tyler, ranked No. 2 in the nation, easily won its first match 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-17) against Richland; although the Thunderducks did manage some scoring rallies in mid-games. In Game 2, freshman Isabell Krahl served through six points, including three aces to rally the Lady Apaches.
During an afternoon match, Tyler had to work much harder against Missouri State University-West Plains to claim a 3-0 win (25-22, 25-19, 26-24). Tyler squeaked by wins in the first two games and trailed the Lady Grizzlies for nearly all of Game 3, before finally tying the score at 22.
West Plains bounced back to tie the score at 24, forcing Tyler to play to 26 to claim the victory.
Tyler Coach Ronda Shirley said the team played as she had expected for opening this season.
“I wasn’t expecting flawless play by any means, but I really thought they went out there and competed,” she said. “I was interested in seeing what they were going to do against West Plains because they are traditionally a very strong team, in the national rankings and I want to see early on what we’re going to do against that type of competition.”
Shirley said Saturday’s matches against Barton and Blinn also pose challenges for her Lady Apaches.
“Blinn … put them at the end because I really want to see what it’s all going to be about,” she said. “I think that’s going to be a great match regardless of who’s going out on the court for each team just because there’s that rivalry.”
Shirley said she likes her team to play “the best of the best to really get a good idea of where we’re at.”