With nine freshmen, two transfers and three returning players, the Lady Apache volleyball team has set its goals high.

Dana Hatch, who is on her 15th season as head coach, and Assistant Coach Andrea Parker, who is working on her second, are both ready to “take care of business” this season.

The Lady Apaches are up early every day at 6:30 a.m. to prepare for their 7 a.m. practice in the Wagstaff Gymnasium. Practice consists of “passing, hitting, setting, blocking and service receive drills,” said 16 year-old freshman setter Darya Dziatechuk.

The ladies look forward to practice despite how early it may be.

“It’s like a family reunion every morning,” Dziatechuk said in her strong Belarusian accent.

The players are very close on and off the court, and Dziatechuk thinks that unity is displayed in game situations when it matters the most. The team bonding nights before schoolstarted may have also played a role in the team’s unity, not to mention each player shares a dorm room with a fellow teammate.

The Lady Apaches went bowling, played putt-putt and tie-dyed team shirts to take a break from volleyball and enjoy one another’s company.

“Unity and communication is everything whether we are in a game or in our dorms, because we are constantly around one another doing what we love to do,” Dziatechuk said.

Last year the team had a record of 15 wins and 16 loses, “they won’t let that stop them from being number one,” Parker said.

This season is already looking better than the last one.

“We are better in every position,” Parker said.

She also said that there is more depth on the bench, which allows the coaches to have a variety of player options on the court.

TJC Head Athletic Director Tim Drain agreed.

“The team is much faster and the girls seem vey passionate about the game,” Drain said. Dr. Drain supervises 11 sports and approximately 270 athletes that attend TJC, and of them all, he believes volleyball is one of those sports that is non-stop action.

“If you come to a game, you’ll be hooked,” Drain said.

Ranking No. 22 nationally last season, the Lady Apaches opened their 2009 preseason hosting a five-team tournament in Wagstaff Gymnasium. The visiting teams were Wharton County Junior College, North Central Texas College, Panola College and Galveston College.

With success over NCTC and Galveston College and one defeat from Wharton College, the ladies finished the TJC Invitational with three wins and one loss toward their record.

The ladies are expected to play their next few games in the Galveston College Invitational Sept. 18 and 19.

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