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Ryne Gallacher / The Outlook Wilkerson serves the ball for Dadeville.

The Dadeville volleyball team started its season Thursday night when it took on the Reeltown Rebels. 

The Tigers (0-1) got off to a hot start, blowing Reeltown (2-2) out in the first set, 25-11, with the only real points for the Rebels coming off Dadeville’s errors on serves.

“We had nerves,” Reeltown coach Kelli Hilyer said. “This was our first area game with this group together. We weren’t talking and moving in that first set.”

The Rebels looked outmatched coming out of the first set but came back with a vengeance, winning the next three sets to finish the night with a 3-1 win over Dadeville, spoiling senior night for the Tigers.

“Everything improved after the first set,” Hilyer said. “We came out in the second set ready to go. Our serves were better; our movement and coverage were better. We are getting better with each set and game that we have.”

The Tigers entered their first game with new head coach Vicky McDonald, who believes the Tigers will be competitive this year despite losing their first game. 

“We had first-game jitters,” McDonald said. “When we bump, set, spike I feel like we could play with anybody. We started making too many errors, so we have to keep working.”

Dadeville didn’t go down without a fight, losing the second set, 25-22, to the Rebels and losing both the third and fourth sets, 25-23. The Tigers remained competitive throughout and didn’t lose confidence, still showing fight until the end. 

“We need to have more consistency and less errors if we want to win these close matches,” McDonald said. “We’ve got to keep working. With me coming in late we didn't have much of a summer to practice, so we are developing our skills as we go.”

Reeltown has now extended its win streak to two, following Tuesday’s win against Randolph County and looks to keep the ball rolling as the Rebels get into the meat of their schedule.

“It was very important to get this first area win,” Hilyer said. “Getting this win shows the girls that we can do this and that moving up in classification isn't any different. If we play our game we will do just as good in Class 3A as we did in 2A. Our communication still needs work and we need to react to the ball quicker, but we are getting there.”

Reeltown’s A’Iyonna Kimble and Bella Studdard made big plays for Reeltown down the stretch, but it was the libero Kenzie Hornsby who was the driving force behind the Rebel comeback, being vocal when others weren’t and getting her teammates’ heads back in the game after the abysmal first set.

“She keeps us going,” Hilyer said. “She’s Reeltown through and through. It helps to have someone out here communicating when everyone else is not. She's very important to us.”

For Dadeville, the road doesn’t get any easier with undefeated Horseshoe Bend coming to town next week. However, with the way the Tigers played Thursday, they have a chance to end the Generals’ streak and also give themselves a boost of confidence they can compete with anyone. 

Reeltown has six days until its next game, giving the Rebels time to implement some of Hilyer’s ideas into practice and give them a rest before they go through the gauntlet that is 3A volleyball.

Ryne Gallacher is a sports writer for The Outlook.