Approaching her 400th career win, Coach Ronda Shirley knows a thing or two about the sport of volleyball.
Before coming to Tyler Junior College two seasons ago, Coach Shirley had taken the Hutchinson Community Col- lege Dragons (Kansas) to four undefeated conference titles and five appearances at the National Junior College Volleyball Tournament with a 5th place finish in 2004.
“I like to coach because I like to see how much I can inspire and develop the kids, not only on the court but off the court as just people… I like to be around this junior college level because you get to see so much growth in such a short amount of time. And, of coarse, if you’re winning in the end, that’s just a plus,” said Shirley.
The head coach is confident that this year’s team has a lot of potential.
“We have a lot of good pieces to a puzzle. It’s just a mat- ter of making them fit correctly, and staying fit and cohesive.
I definitely think the pieces are there, we’re just going to have to continue to see that growth…we can keep progressing and kind of not get stale, and I do feel like we can have an amazing season with a really good outcome,” said Shirley
The Apaches have a pair of international students who are sure to be a nightmare for opposing teams. Hawaiian setter Anuhea Keanini and Brazilian middle blocker Jaqueline San- tos have proven to be key weapons in the first ten games.
“Anu [Anuhea] brings a good energy to the team. She’s very smart about the game and makes good decisions,” said Shirley, who also complemented Jaqueline Santos, saying, “She’s not a big talker but her presence on the court says a lot.”
Keanini’s has earned this issue’s Spotlight Athlete recog- nition for her contributions to her team’s success.
“I think I contribute a lot of energy, or at least that’s what I attempt to do…I try to contribute a little bit of consistency to keep everybody in a good flow and a good rhythm to keep the momentum on our side of the court,” Keanini said. “I’m pretty optimistic. My team is great, and it’s just really good to play with people who want it as bad as you…Playing with these girls in Tyler, I can see that we all want the same things, and that’s just to win.”
K e a n i n i ‘ s knackfor racking up assists and digging in volleys has been a key factor for the Apaches so far this season, and there is much anticipation to see what numbers the Wash- ington State transfer will put up for the remainder of the schedule.
The Apaches volleyball team is 10-0 as of now, which is the best opening-season record the Apaches have had in recent history. They hope to continue their winning streak September 16-17 when they travel to San Ja- cinto to compete in the Lee College Tournament.