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VOLLEYBALL: Season ends for Lady Tigers in first round of state playoffs
The Lady Tigers react after earning an early point against Hebron Christian Academy in their state playoff match on Tuesday, Oct. 18. - photo by Rio White

For the majority of three sets, the Dawson County varsity volleyball team showed why they had earned a spot in the class 3A state playoffs in their first-round match against Hebron Christian Academy. 

Between a strong showing by senior Abby Felkai, an energetic defensive effort all around and general confidence up against an intimidating opponent, the Lady Tigers fought to the finish.

But strong performances by Hebron toward the end of each of those three sets allowed the 2019 state champions to sweep Dawson in a best-of-five set situation.

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“I thought that they played well…in the face of the giant,” head coach Tanya Porter said of her team. “They competed until the very end and that’s all I ask of them to be able to do.”

Any early nerves shown by Dawson in the first set quickly vanished as the team fed Felkai to help get the team to a 13-11 lead.

Hebron would gradually gain momentum on their home court, pulling away late to take the opening set 25-18.

The next set would proceed in a similar fashion to the first, with the two teams trading punches until both were at 15 points.

At that point, Hebron turned up the heat again and rattled off five straight points to place pressure on Dawson.

Another late comeback effort by the Lady Tigers in the second set fell short, with Hebron going ahead 25-17 to take a commanding two-set lead.

The third — and ultimately final — would prove to be the tightest, with Dawson giving all they had in an attempt to extend the match.

This time, the Lady Tigers managed to cross the 20-point mark and pushed Hebron to step up their own game. A close third set finished 25-22 in favor of the hosts, ending Dawson’s 2022 season. 

“I told them I’m super proud of them. It’s a big accomplishment to go back to [state],” Porter said. “They’re the winningest team in our program [history].”

The Lady Tigers finished the season with a 26-18 overall record and a 12-5 region mark.

Porter expressed her admiration of the group of seniors who helped lead the team to improve both in skill and maturity throughout the season. 

“[We had] a big group of seniors who started as freshmen and we will definitely miss them as we see them go,” Porter said. “This was hopefully preparation for life for them not to bow down in the face of something huge. I’m proud of them for the season that they had and for the time that they’ve spent with our program.”