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Leaders at the net
Lewis, Pierce, Buddenbaum claim top honors

Once again this fall, Heritage and Rockdale made runs at claiming berths to the Class AAAA state volleyball playoffs.

Two seniors - Heritage's Tori Pierce and Rockdale's Jasmine Lewis - played key roles as both squads chased their playoff goal. Pierce provided steady leadership and strong play as the sophomore-laden Lady Patriots fell one victory short of a state bid. At Rockdale, Lewis was a pillar of strength in the middle as the Lady Bulldogs also came up one win shy of a state berth.

For those reasons, Pierce and Lewis are the Volleyball Players of the Year on the Citizen's 2007 All-Area Volleyball Team.

Heritage's David Buddenbaum is the Coach of the Year after guiding a young squad to a remarkable season. With eight sophomores in the lineup, the Lady Patriots posted a 29-14 record and won the Area 8-AAAA South title with a perfect 5-0 record.

Tori Pierce: The senior outside hitter was the Lady Patriots' go-to player on the outside, leading the team in kills with 224. She also had 43 aces and 17 blocks.

Aniya Strong: Strong, a senior outside hitter, chalked 168 kills and 43 aces for the Lady Bulldogs. She also tallied 272 passes to target.

Maha Syed: The senior outside hitter turned in a strong season for the Lady Seminoles with 140 kills, 30 aces, 12 blocks, 241 digs and 224 passes.

Qeiarra Johnson: Johnson, a senior outside hitter, led the Lady Eagles in kills and aces and was second in blocks.

Jasmine Lewis: The senior middle hitter registered a team-high 236 kills for the Lady Bulldogs. She also had 52 aces and a service percentage of 92 percent.

Taylor Bailey: Bailey, one of the Lady Patriots' strong sophomore class, paced her team in blocks with 88. The middle hitter was also second in kills behind Pierce with 190.

Olivia Wasdin: Wasdin teamed up with Bailey to give the Lady Patriots a strong tandem at middle hitter. The sophomore tallied 139 kills, 52 blocks and 77 aces.

Jenna Brandenburg: The senior middle hitter led the Lady Seminoles in kills (141), aces (80) and solo blocks (22).

Kelsey Girardot: Girardot, a sophomore right-side hitter, registered 98 kills, 60 aces, 39 assists and 15 blocks for the Lady Bulldogs.

Rachel Jubran: The sophomore setter paced the Lady Patriots in assists with 360. She also had 77 aces and a service percentage of 92.8 percent.

Chelsea Nunn: Nunn, a sophomore setter, led the Lady Bulldogs with 386 assists. She also had 33 kills and a service percentage of 89 percent.

Kara Dobbs: The senior setter tallied a team-high 187 assists for the Lady Seminoles and chipped in 191 digs.

Olivia Patrick: Patrick, a senior libero, ended her career with the Lady Patriots as the school's all-time leader in passing efficiency and digs. She also set a single-season record in passing efficiency. This season, the defensive specialist had 314 digs to go along with 50 aces and a service percentage of 91.9 percent.

E-mail jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.