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FALL PREVIEW: Seniors set to lead volleyball, region success a goal
The Dawson County volleyball team won 21 games last season and will be looking to make a deep playoff run this fall. - photo by Jacob Smith

Dawson County Lady Tigers Volleyball

Head coach: Tanya Porter, seventh season

2021 season record: 21-11 overall, 7-2 in Region 7-3A

Key returners: Abby Felkai (Sr.), Jessica Mann (Sr.), Emerald Sallee (Sr.)

Season outlook:

Head coach Tanya Porter and the Dawson County volleyball team will be looking to expand on their growth over the past couple of years, with a strong core of seniors set to lead the way heading into the fall.

Porter has been instilling the mantra ‘TEAM, COMPETE, BELIEVE’ into her team to set the standard of how they will compete throughout the season.

Last season, the Lady Tigers won 21 matches and forged a strong identity a year after winning just eight times. Led by seniors Avery Herring and Emma Pelfrey, the team made their mark in Region 7-3A.

“Avery and Emma were tremendous leaders because they understood that leadership is more about serving than directing.  They will be missed greatly in that regard,” Porter said. “Our goals for this season are not much different than they have been in the past. We want to help our players become the best version of themselves both on and off the court.”

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One of the team’s biggest goals this season will be to advance further in the region tournament and make it to the state tournament.

Last year, the Lady Tigers made an unexpected first-round exit in the region tournament after earning the No. 3 seed in the region.

Coach Porter is challenging her team to change those results next time around by scheduling tough opponents and focusing on long-term improvements

“We would like to see them embrace the challenges that will come from playing better competition and know that a great win-loss record isn't always representative of the true ability of a team,” Porter said. “We would rather go deeper into the state tournament playoffs with a semi-decent record than have an outstanding record and miss out on a state playoff run.”

With six seniors on the roster heading into next season, the team will be looking to learn from the tournament loss and become one of the strongest teams in the region.

The team has the balance to do just that, with setter Abby Felkai, outside hitter Jessica Mann, and libero Emerald Sallee. Add to that fellow seniors Abby Clouser, Skyler Murphy and Kirklyn Porter and the squad will be full of experience. 

Jessica Mann jumps high to smash the ball during a match last season. Mann was an All-Region selection last year and will play an important role this season. - photo by Jacob Smith

“The six seniors that will be returning this year are definitely among the most talented and experienced group of players as a whole that has come through our program,” Porter said. “We will be looking for them to use those qualities to help their teammates become the best that they can be.”

Felkai led the team last season with 185 kills, 283 assists, and 73 aces while Sallee led the team with 204 digs. Mann and Sallee were both named to the All-Region team.

For all of those senior players, there are underclassmen who will help round out the roster, which Porter says will likely end up with 11 or 12 players.  Additionally, there are many players coming up from the junior high level who are helping build the future of the team. 

“We do have a great deal of talent coming up in our underclassmen group,” Porter said. “We will need to get these girls as much meaningful experience as possible so that they are prepared to step into roles next year where they will be able to immediately make an impact at the varsity level.”

The Lady Tigers will begin the season with a trio of matches hosted by North Forsyth on Tuesday, Aug. 9, facing Forsyth Central, Lumpkin County and the hosts. The first two home matches are Tuesday, Aug. 16, against Lakeview Academy and that Thursday against Union County