For much of 2011, Bellarmine Prep carried the same torch Jackson High is primed to do now in Class 4A volleyball:
Team to beat.
So when the third-ranked Lions traveled up to Mill Creek on Tuesday night for a nonleague encounter with No. 1 Jackson – also the 17th-rated team in the country – they had very little pressure on them.
And the match swung on a decisive third set – won by the Timberwolves – and Jackson survived for a 25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 25-16 victory over Bellarmine Prep.
Reigning Narrows League Most Valuable Player Courtney Schwan paced the Lions (2-1) with 17 kills and 20 digs. Katy DeGroot had 31 assists.
Lions coach Jody DeGroot said she is still juggling lineup combinations.
DeGroot would rather see peak performance when the matches really count in the postseason in November.
“It was a battle all the way through,” DeGroot said. “Part of our conversation at the end of the night was that one of the big tests we faced was how you handled yourself on the road when a crowd is chanting behind you. That is a good experience early on.”
Jackson, the 2010 state champion, opened its season against the Lions on Tuesday.