HIGHLAND | The first game is a time to calm the nerves. Scores aren't that important.
At least that's how the Highland girls bowling team has operated this season.
"The intensity, the adrenaline, gets us worked up," junior Jessica Dziezak said. "Our first game we always (struggle), to be honest. Then, we build up from there."
The early event issues haven't harmed the Trojans' success, though. The Duneland sectional champion posted a perfect 11-0 regular season.
"With an undefeated season, it's very important (to win postseason trophies)," coach Lisa Dickerson said. "You feel like you have to have it, like you deserve it."
The Trojans will bowl in the regional tournament at City Lanes in Michigan City on Saturday. Highland has beaten teams from every conference that feeds that regional.
Dickerson, who has been coaching Highland for five years, doesn't have the luxury of coaching an experienced team. Dziezak is the only junior and there are no seniors.
"We're a young team, but I think everybody kind of understands that you don't have to have strikes. You need spares," Dickerson said. "Scores aren't really high, so we drill it in their head 'spares, spares, spares.'"
Dziezak led the Duneland conference with 257 game, a two-game series of 464 and high average of 183.61. Catie Bales was right behind her with a 177.78 average. The team as a whole was nearly 2,000 points better than second-place Lake Station with a total pinfall of 18,841 in 11 matches.
"Somebody may bowl bad one game, but they may make a miraculous comeback in the next game," Bales said. "We all keep our mindset that we're a team, not individuals."
There are three more steps to go in the state tournament, but confidence is high among the Trojans.
"It would mean the world to me and and I know it would mean the world to the girls (to win a state championship)," Bales said. "I think we can do it."