In the middle of the Kansas wheat fields one might be surprised to find Maize, the city, not the vegetable.
The Wichita suburb is the home of Lindsey Jones, a member of the Tyler Junior College volleyball team who hasn’t grasped the Texas vernacular just yet.
“They say ya’ll all the time here and more than once in the same sentence,” she said. “If I talked like that when I go home, everyone would laugh at me.”
But no one is laughing when they see Jones play.
The 5-9 outside hitter leads the team in kills (207), serving aces (32) and digs (211).
TJC plays Trinity Valley at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Athens.
TJC coach Ronda Shirley said Jones has been instrumental in the team’s success and she is the type of player a coach wishes she could clone.
“She not only has exceptional volleyball skills, but she has work ethic and leadership skills that are hard to find,” Shirley said. “She also exemplifies being that ‘true’ student/athlete, as she currently carries the highest GPA on our team.”
Jones grew up in a “sports family” including an older brother who now plays for a professional minor league baseball team.
She played basketball, softball, volleyball and participated in track, but she decided to narrow the field once she was in high school.
“I had to make a decision my freshman year because I wanted to concentrate on a sport so I could play in college,” Jones said. “Something clicked with volleyball.”
She found collegiate volleyball just what she expected it to be — faster and more intense. And she loves it.
“I think people who really have a passion go on to play in college,” she said. “It’s like a job and you have to take it seriously.”
Although Maize is where her family is, Jones said her family in Tyler is the Apache Ladies volleyball team.
She found herself being a little intimidated by the intensity of play her freshman year, but she said, the sophomores on the team then proved to be good leaders and prepared her and others to take over that role this year.
“Now all four sophomores this year have picked up the reins … we have an amazing team,” she said.
And the intensity of coaching has helped her grow as a player, she said.
“They want what’s best for us. They will do just about anything for us on or off the court . . . they are second moms here,” Jones said.
Jones said she now feels more confident playing the game she loves so much and hopes the team — currently ranked No. 8 in the nation — can continue its winning ways through the rest of the season.
“I just hope we do everything together and get as far as we’re capable of going,” she said.
Jones, a general studies major, said she also wants to continue playing volleyball at the next level, but hasn’t made any final decisions just yet.
“I’m keeping my options open,” she said.