Volleyball is still relatively new in the Bulloch County area, however, over the years Southeast Bulloch has put a competitive team out on the court.
Last year the squad advanced to the sweet 16 in the state playoffs, but SEB is not satisfied.
This season, the Yellow Jackets have their eyes set on finishing the season in the top two in the region, making them eligible to host a state playoff game for the first time in school history — and they have the talent to do it.
If this year’s starting lineup for the Yellow Jackets looks familiar, it's no mistake. SEB had zero turnover last year, allowing the team to bond and learn together.
Head coach Stefanie Harrelson said she’s excited for this season, mainly because she gets to return the same group of girls that became so successful last season.
“I lost no seniors last year, which is amazing. So basically it’s the same returning team this year and I’m really hopeful with us having a No. 1 or No. 2 spot in the region this year,” said Harrelson, who has five seniors this season. “A lot of the other teams in the area lost seniors and we were the only ones who didn’t. It’s great having a whole returning team and I’m very lucky for that.
“These girls have a bond and they’ve been playing together for four years now. There’s a good tight bond with them.”
Southeast Bulloch has had a junior varsity and varsity squad for just three consecutive seasons.
Coach Harrelson said returning the same group of girls from last year will make a big impact on the court this year.
Setter and co-captain Savannah Black said the Yellow Jackets have the potential and skill set to be a formidable force in the region.
“This is one of our newer programs, but we’re really an athletic team,” said Black, who enters her senior year this season. “This season has been going really good and we’re lucky to have such a good group of girls. It’s hard finding a lot of talent, but the more athletic we are the better we can be. We’re stronger than the teams of the past, I think.”
SEB (3-2) faces a tough match today against Savannah Arts and Savannah High School.
Fellow captain Cierra Jordan said the improvement from last season to this season is evident from the team’s play on the court.
“So far it’s going really great. A lot of the girls have improved a ton since last season and they played club (volleyball) as well,” Jordan said before practice Wednesday afternoon. “We’re basically playing with the same team two years in a row and it really helps the team because we’re so used to playing with everyone.”
Jordan, entering her junior year, said she hopes to go to college and play volleyball competitively.
In her fourth year at SEB, Harrelson said she loves coming back and coaching a quality program. With the help of assistant coach “Ro” Smith, Harrelson said the goal is to continue to be successful.
“We’re still striving to be in the top four and better. The girls motivate me and I just enjoy coaching. It’s definitely fun and its been a great experience so far."