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SEB splits meet, falls to Islands in three sets

 SEB split their volleyball games Thursday night, dropping their first game to Islands High School 25-22, 19-25, 21-25 and coming back to win the second game against Jenkins 25-18, 25-15.
    The showcase game was against Islands, where the Sharks and SEB will look to be the top two teams in AAA region three all season. Islands had already gotten the better of SEB earlier in the month at the Chatham Open, so the Yellow Jackets looked to bounce back on their home court.
    "I really wanted to get them at home," said head coach Stephanie Harrelson. "It's not often you get the top dog at home. It's the place we needed to beat them."
    Things started off hot for SEB when they stormed ahead 10-2 in the first set, spurred by five straight service points from senior Libero Cierra Jordan. SEB continued to grow their lead to 13-4 before Islands woke up and went on a 7-3 run to squeeze the deficit down 16-11. SEB extended their lead 19-12, then Islands came back on another five-point run to cut the Yellow Jacket lead down to two.
    "We really like to jump out to leads," Harrelson said. "When we frontrun, there's no one better than us."
    The teams traded points to run the score to 20-18 SEB, then the Yellow Jackets asserted themselves down the stretch to extend their lead 24-19. Islands would never quite give in, as they continued to fight back to bring the score back within two, but SEB laid down the final kill to take game one.
    Set two didn’t have the sort of front running start from SEB in game one, but the Yellow Jackets would pull away after being locked up 4-4 to make the score 10-5 after a series of infractions and errors from Islands. The two sides then traded points to bring the score to 15-10 with SEB in the lead, but then the Yellow Jackets started to become unglued.
    "The slightest error can send us off the rails," Harrelson said. "When we get frusterated we stop communicating. Then we really start to play poorly."
    10 SEB unforced errors followed their 15-10 lead, which allowed Islands to go on a 15-4 run to end and steal the game. Three SEB errors and two Island kills evened it up to 16 points apiece, then the other seven errors followed to give the game away to the Sharks and even the sets and one.
    "This is what happens to us," Harrelson said. "When we have control we do very well, but when the slightest thing goes wrong we fall apart."
    The third set saw both sides coming out of the gate hot with three kills each to knot up the score at 4-4, but two infractions and an error by SEB gifted Islands a 7-4 lead. Two more kills and an ace by the Sharks extended their lead to 11-5, but SEB fought back off four Islands errors to cut the deficit back to one point.
    But with the score 12-11, SEB continued to shoot themselves in the foot with four more errors to allow Islands back up 17-11. Even while SEB played sloppy down the stretch, they still found the gumption to fight back to 21-20. Down a point with an opportunity to take back the game, Islands proved to be too much in the final five points, finishing on a 4-1 run to win the third set.
    "It's very frusterating," Harrelson said. "There were some personnel desicions made on my part that may have hurt us. I'm not sure in the end if it would have made a difference, but it just hurts." 
    SEB won their next game against Jenkins in a much less uneventful affair. 
    "Jenkins made the loss to Islands more paletable," Harrelson said. "But we really needed that game against Islands."
    SEB (10-5, 0-1) will play again next Thursday on the road to take on Groves and Liberty County at 5:00 p.m.