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VOLLEYBALL: Felkai’s versatility helps team rebound against Lumpkin after two opening losses
Sophomore Eva Bishop celebrates with her teammates after making a crucial block in the team’s win against Lumpkin County. - photo by Rio White

Head coach Tanya Porter has made it a point to give her Dawson County volleyball team a challenging schedule this season, which was reflected in their opening trio of matches hosted by North Forsyth on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

With the hosts coming off a Final Four appearance in last season’s 7A state tournament, the Lady Tigers also had tough opponents in 7A team Forsyth Central and region 7-3A rivals Lumpkin County.

Senior setter Abby Felkai was all over the floor Tuesday night, leading the offense with 28 kills while playing out of position for the night, according to Porter.

“I was proud of her for making the most of it,” Porter said. “She’s used to being on the setting side of things and making everybody else look good. But she can do both, which is really a great attribute for her.”

In addition to Felkai, players such as Megan Roche and Maggie Allen helped out offensively while Eva Bishop showed strength at the net with her defensive skills.

Across all three matches, Felkai led the team in both kills and blocks on the night. Offensively, Abby Clouser led the team with 24 assists while Kirklyn Porter had 23 assists and five service aces in her return to the sport after a year off. Defensively, Hope Selzer led the team with 16 digs.

Dawson began the night facing Central, with the classification gap making little difference in a tight first set.

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Leading 14-11 at the first timeout of the match, the Lady Tigers lost momentum and allowed Central to go on an 11-1 run, resulting in a 22-25 first-set loss. 

The Lady Bulldogs took that energy right into the second set, with Dawson falling 12-25 for a match loss. For Porter, her team will need to keep up a stronger — and louder — line of communication to avoid second-set momentum gaps such as that one. 

“Without that energy, we all just get into our own heads,” Porter said. “We have a history of being able to gather back and make something good happen once we spiral a little bit.”

That sense of resiliency would come after the team’s most challenging match of the night against the hosts. 

The Lady Raiders were aggressive from the beginning but Dawson kept within striking distance before losing the first set 19-25. Another tough second set resulted in a 15-25 loss and a second defeat of the night.

After a long wait, the Lady Tigers showed their true potential in a two-set victory over Lumpkin. With each point Dawson won, the better their communication became and the more momentum they established. 

The culmination of the 25-12, 25-16 victory was an emphatic block by Bishop that brought the team’s volume to the loudest all night. Porter mentioned that the sophomore will be asked to put in plenty of varsity minutes this season.

The 1-2 Lady Tigers will have another away game this week, playing Gainesville at a match hosted by Flowery Branch.

Next week, Dawson will have their home openers and senior night recognition on Tuesday, Aug. 16.