Coming into this season, the TJC Lady Apache volleyball team was that red headed stepbrother of TJC athletics. There weren’t many people going to games, but that has changed in a big way.The Lady Apache’s ended last season ranked third nationally and entered this season ranked number two, and within two weeks made the jump to number one for the first time in school history.
“Moving up so early was good, because that one loss drop took the pressure off of us. And now we want to get back up there.” Coach Ronda Shirley said.
The four returning players for the Lady Apaches are Ivana Bulajic, Adrienn Amaro, Jacqueline Santos, and Lindsey Jones. These four leaders of the team have set a great example for the freshmen, which have not played like freshmen as of late. “I told them (freshmen) that they could use the crutch of being a freshman until October 1st, then after that you can’t use that anymore.” Shirley said.
These sophomores have been the rock that’s held this team together and kept them grounded when they were ranked number one nationally. It’s shown through, as the Lady Apaches have only lost three games thus far. And with freshman looking strong the apaches have nowhere to go but up.
“If you watch the sophomores you can tell they’ve been there before. They’re confident in their play and it makes us confident as well.” Freshman Jordan McArdle said.
McArdle is fourth on the team in total kills with 112; the only ones ahead of her are three of the four sophomores. “A lot of people that play us are surprised that we have twelve freshmen, and hopefully that bleeds through next year.” The odds of having all twelve players back next year in junior college is almost impossible, but with success comes pride; and being ranked number one had to help try to sway some of them back. “It’s just rankings, rankings don’t matter. What matters is what’s at the end.” Freshman Hannah Robey said.
A hopeful TJC volleyball team is hoping to play into late October and early November – with the roll they’re on, there is no reason why they can’t.