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Jackets serving up more wins on volleyball court

    BROOKLET — As volleyball’s regular season enters its home stretch, Southeast Bulloch is looking to prove that last year’s postseason run was no fluke.
    As recently as three years ago, the Lady Yellow Jackets had no volleyball team.
    In 2012, Stefanie Harrelson helped SEB launch a squad, competing with a junior varsity team. Last season was the Jackets’ first at the varsity level, but instead of struggling — as so many new programs do — the Jackets took flight and ultimately reached the second round of the state playoffs.
    “It certainly was great to be able to enjoy that success,” Harrelson said. “It’s just amazing to think about where we were on that first day of practice and where we are now.”
    Coming out of the gate, a return trip to the state playoffs seemed like a lock.
    The Jackets split their first two matches of the season before ripping off a 10-game winning streak. The road has gotten tougher with area play, but SEB still boasts a 15-7 overall mark and a winning record against area rivals.
    “Some of the new teams we have to face are pretty good,” outside hitter Cierra Jordan said. “We’ve lost some of those games, but we’re still confident that we can win when we play our best.”
    Jordan is part of a flurry of girls who joined the squad last year and have given the Jackets a shot in the arm. Breanna VanLoo moved to Brooklet from Michigan and joins fellow Midwestern transplant Savannah Black (Ill.) as pillars of the SEB starting lineup.
    Combined with girls like defensive specialist and outside hitter Emily King — who has been with the program all three seasons — a great volleyball tradition seems to be laying its foundation at Southeast Bulloch.
    “We’re very lucky to have Joanie Smith assisting us with coaching,” Harrelson said. “She provides a lot of knowledge and our players have done a great job with picking things up and continuing to improve.
    The Jackets face a pair of crucial area matches on Thursday  as they take on Savannah High and Johnson. Following that, SEB will be seeded for the Area 1-AAA tournament beginning Oct. 11 at Beach. From there, the four teams who make it to the tournament semifinals will qualify for the state playoffs.
    “These next few games are huge for us,” Harrelson said. “We would really like a good seed for the tournament. From there, we just hope that we’ll play our best and see what happens.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.