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Lady Jacket Volleyball in uncharted waters
SEB Volleyball
Southeast Bulloch's Anna Claire Cornwell, front, Emily Fowler, rear, and Jada Brayton, left, celebrate the final point in their victory over Windsor Forest on Saturday in Brooklet. The Lady Yellow Jackets will host Sandy Creek from metro Atlanta today in the quarterfinal round of the GHSA Class AAA state championships.

It’s a great time — and an increasingly busier time — to be a Southeast Bulloch sports fan. The Yellow Jacket cross country team hosts the region meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. The Yellow Jacket softball team hosts the state quarterfinals Tuesday and the volleyball team will host the Elite 8 Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the SEB gymnasium.

The Yellow Jacket volleyball program is one of the newest sports at Southeast Bulloch. The first year the Jackets had a JV program was 2012, and the varsity began the following season. Started by coach Stefanie Harrelson the Jackets have quickly gone from start-up to Elite 8 in less than 10 years.

“We have made it to the Sweet 16 a couple times,” said Harrelson. “But this is uncharted territory for us.I have encouraged the girls to continue and try and make history for the volleyball program.”

The Jackets returned quite a few players from the team that advanced to the Sweet 16 a year ago, but one of the biggest additions this off season came from the Atlanta area.

“I knew we had a lot of potential this year, but getting Katy Fuller who transferred in from East Coweta was huge,” said Harrelson. “She is six-feet tall, and has state playoff experience at a big-time level. She was kind of the missing piece to push us to another level.”

“We have a lot of other talented players that have played a great part in our success as well,” said Harrelson. “Jada Braxton is a great defensive player, and she is my libero. Mackenzie Bazemore is another great defensive player, even though she is short she finds good spots. Chloe Branch and Emily Fowler are a couple of great setters, and Katy had a lot of kills for us in our last round. I have never had a player over about 5-7 and I have two six-footers this year, which has been great.”

Like many of the other sports at Southeast Bulloch COVID issues caused scheduling conflicts, which had Harrelson making changes on the fly. With the Savannah teams out the Jackets picked up some better competition, which Harrelson feels has been key in their success.

“We usually beat most of the Savannah schools, who haven’t been much competition,” said Harrelson. “This year with them all gone I picked up games with Statesboro, and Richmond Hill, South Effingham and Effingham. Our record may not look as good as it has in the past, but we are a much better team for having played those teams.”

The Jackets advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating former region foe Windsor Forest three games to one in round two. Up next the Jackets will get even tougher competition as they host Sandy Creek.

“They are coming from a great area in terms of playing volleyball,” said Harrelson. “That area has won a lot of state championships. They are the number two seed out of that region which tells you how tough that region is. They can hit and block well, we just have to be ready to cover when they hit so we can do something with that. We are really going to have to be aggressive on offense. We are going to have to get good passes off serve and receive so we can set up our offense. I am hoping our fans turn out as well to help us with home court.”

The Jackets and Patriots are set to get things underway Tuesday at 5 p.m.