Sept. 13, 2012
Jon Cooper, Sting Daily –
Courtney Felinski has dreams of being a writer some day.
While Felinski admits it’s something of a pipe dream right now, what is very much reality is the compelling story she is authoring in her second year on the volleyball court for Georgia Tech.
Heading into the season’s fourth week, the sophomore outside hitter from Magnolia, Texas ranks third on the team in kills (53, tied with fellow sophomore Quinn Evans) and kills per set (1.71). Her 11 digs are two more than she had last season and her seven blocks are only two off last year’s total. Her .223 hitting percentage doubles last year’s and includes a superb .444 night against Cleveland State.
There’s a clarity that she’s found as a sophomore that she never thought she’d see as a freshman.
“It’s a lot easier,” said Felinski. “Now we’re giving advice to the freshmen. They’re so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when they came in and just overwhelmed. I remember being that way. I’m just telling them, ‘You’re going to get it. It doesn’t seem possible right now but it’s all going to come together.'”
Part of that clarity came from taking notes about how the upperclassmen handled their business and, especially, adversity.
“Everything’s a process,” she said. “They always talk about how they haven’t always been at the level they’re at today and that gives us a lot of hope whenever we’re struggling with something or trying to break a habit. You’re going to do it. It’s just a really long process to get to where you want to be as a player. You just have to work hard all the time.
“I think I’m mentally tougher than I was,” she added. “Last year, if I had been in the same situation I was [after the Cal State-Fullerton match] I don’t think I would have bounced back as well as I did. I’m just learning to let things go and communicate with [Head Coach] Tonya [Johnson] better and my teammates better.”
Felinski showed her improved resilience after that tough opening night. She talked things over with Coach Johnson and bounced back the next day in a big way. She’s still on that bounce trending upward.
“She started out a little slow that Friday night. I gave her another shot on Saturday morning and she responded,” Johnson said. “I just told her, ‘Hey, you’ve got to flush Friday night. It’s over. It’s gone. We can’t go back and change it but we can look forward and do things better.’ That was huge for her, knowing that she was going to get another shot on Saturday morning. I felt like she held her own that Saturday night against SMU.
“She’s got some things she’s got to work on from a blocking standpoint, just being more aggressive blocking-wise and then off-blocker defense,” Johnson continued. “Offensively, she’s coming along really well and I like what she’s doing offensively from that standpoint.”
Felinski has gotten her point — points, actually — across over the last two weekends. She had a superb Indiana Invitational, putting up eight kills against Bowling Green and finishing with 10 against Indiana. The following weekend at the University of Florida Active Ankle Challenge, she set her career-high with 11 kills in the opener against Louisiana, tying for the team lead with Monique Mead, and led the team in blocks with three. She finished with 16 kills in the tournament.
She’ll try to continue building on her successes and keep the team on its winning path this weekend, starting tonight in the ACC opener against Clemson (8-2), as part of the Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic. The action begins tonight at 7:00 p.m. at O’Keefe Gym. Tech will play Georgia State (2-8) Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.
While the present looks bright for the Yellow Jackets, who enter the weekend at 7-2, Felinski is really excited about the chapters yet to be written.
“It’s really encouraging,” she said. “We have great leadership this year and they’re setting a really good example for all of us who are going to be, hopefully, in those positions in the years to come.”
Knowing where she’s going on the court will help as she sorts out where she’s going off the court. That may include writing, something she enjoyed a taste of during the team’s summer trip to Europe.
“It was really fun. I love writing,” she said. “It’s my dream to be a writer I had such a great time doing that,” she said.
While sportswriting appears out of the picture — she said she’ll leave that to libero Nicki Meyer — she is confident that things will work out.
“I really want the Business and Marketing degree but I really don’t like business classes, which is an issue,” she said, with a laugh. “Especially at THIS school. I don’t want to be an engineer. I know that for sure. I can’t do that.
“I’m still questioning what I’m going to do,” she added. “I’m stuck in between two majors right now, I don’t know which one I want to commit to — Business or Communications. I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out.”
It’s all part of the process.
Clemson Player to Watch: Kristin Faust: Clemson is fourth in the nation in serving, averaging 1.97 service aces per set, and Faust is a big reason why. In 32 sets this season, the sophomore outside hitter, has 17 service aces. That leads the ACC and is only four fewer than she had last year in 90 sets. She averages .53 SA’s per set. Faust also is second on the team with 102 digs
Georgia State Player to Watch: Emily Averbeck: The junior libero has been sensational in her two seasons with the Panthers. She has 193 digs, and her 5.51 digs per set ranks 14th in the country. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native is ahead of last season’s pace, when she had 441 digs, the seventh-best season in school history, and had 4.12 digs per set, the sixth-best season in Georgia State history.