TYLER — The Panola College Fillies and the Tyler Junior College Apaches have gotten quite familiar with each other lately, playing three times in the last 11 days.
Each team took a hard-fought 3-2 win on their home court, setting up the rubber-match Sunday.
However, there was a little more significance to this match.
It was for a bid to the NJCAA National Tournament.
The Fillies took the first set 25-20, only to see the Apaches bounce back to tie it with a 25-22 win. Panola took another 25-20 win in the third, then battled the home team point-for-point down the stretch for a 29-27 win and their fourth trip to the national tournament.
This will be the fourth time the Fillies have qualified for the national tournament, which is in Hutchinson, Kansas, Nov. 21-23.
Top-ranked Navarro College won the Region XIV Tournament on Saturday night, but the Fillies (29-7) got the other bid allotted to the conference.
The 18th-ranked Fillies were the third seed and beat Blinn College to open the tournament, then lost to TJC, 3-2. They beat Laredo 3-1 on Saturday, then beat Lee College 3-0 on Sunday to get its second shot at TJC.
"God is so good," said coach Nicole Thorn, who previously coached PC when it made its first trip to the national tournament in 2009. "We won this because we believed in us when no one else did. We knew we'd be here and win it and that's all that matters.
"This region is tough and every game is a battle and every game's a fight. It says a lot about the determination of our kids for them to win this."
The other two appearances at the national tournament were in 2016 and 2017.
Panola Watchman- J. Scott Russell
Stats from all five games combined listed below.
Mikayla Ware: 93 kills, 7 blocks, 2 aces, 10 assists, 94 digs
Hannah Floyd: 2 aces, 4 assists, 95 digs
Erin Perez: 5 aces, 5 assists, 69 digs
Carol Melo: 6 kills, 3 digs
Riley Seegers: 8 kills, 9 blocks, 4 aces
Nina Hauff: 47 digs
Mylena Testoni: 50 kills, 5 blocks, 10 digs
McKenzie Dimery: 3 aces, 9 digs
Maria Idjilov: 17 kills, 7 blocks, 6 aces, 217 assists, 36 digs
Ashton Brown: 19 kills, 20 blocks
April Brown: 13 kills, 2 blocks
Nyah Walker: 60 kills, 15 blocks
Maria Idjilov received Setter of Year from Region XIV. Mikayla Ware received First Team All-Conference, Maria Idjilov received Second Team All-Conference & Hannah Floyd, Nyah Walker, and Mylena Testoni received Honorable Mention.
The NJCAA National Tournament will take place in Hutchinson, Kansas on November 21-23. GO FILLIES!