Rockdale sweeps, ready for rivalry match
Bulldogs undefeated, Heritage next

CONYERS - Bring on Heritage.

In a tuneup for Tuesday's match with the county and area rival Patriots, Rockdale swept Winder-Barrow, 25-23, 25-11, to move to 3-0 in Area 8-AAAA. Heritage also improved to 3-0, Thursday, with a win over Apalachee.

Rockdale took a 17-12 lead in the first game on an error by Winder's Amy Wright, but the visitors went on an 8-2 run, aided by Mimi Hill's three kills and two aces from Mireya Loza to grab a 20-19 lead.

Lauren Aikens followed with her sixth kill of the game to tie it at 20-20, Jessie Speight answered with a kill, and later, sandwiched around Brianna Dennis' kill off a feed from setter Chelsea Nunn, Hill slammed home two kills to even the score again at 23-23. But Kelsey Girardot had a kill and Speight's error gave Rockdale a 25-23 win.

"(Hill) had some laser shots, we could've easily put our heads down, but we stepped up and made plays," Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said. "We wanted it a little bit more and we used that momentum in (the) second game."

Leading 4-3 early in game two, Rockdale took control thanks to Aikens and the serving of Katie Bryant. Aikens, part of a solid front line, had two kills off passes from Nunn and Bryant had three consecutive aces to make it a 10-4 game. Nunn fed Girardot for a kill and Winder-Barrow had four consecutive errors to push Rockdale's lead to 15-4. That's when Nunn had her way, feeding Girardot for another kill and adding an ace and a great save on an eventual kill by Dennis to give the Bulldogs a 20-4 cushion.

"It starts from the back row; we got good passes," said Sansing. "(And) thing is, when (Aikens) is on top of her game, you can't really stop her. (Bryant is) a great server, she serves to spots."

Winder-Barrow tried to climb back in the game, scoring seven of the next nine points. Hill was the main culprit again, picking up three aces and two kills to cut the Rockdale lead to 22-11. But Hill's service error, a kill from Aikens and Girardot's ace sealed the two-game sweep and set up Tuesday's big match.

"It's what you play for," Sansing said.

Rockdale made short work of Newton earlier in the night, winning 25-11, 25-7. The Bulldogs took advantage of a Newton's poor service return, picking up 16 aces in the two games. In the opener, Libby Bradford started the game with four aces, a kill and two assists on kills by Girardot to put Rockdale up 8-0.

Later, Elizabeth Fox added two aces, Taylor Burdette added one and Rockdale took advantage of seven Rams' errors down the stretch to go up 23-11. Bryant finished the blowout win with two more aces.

Rockdale ran out to a 13-1 lead in game two on the strength of Girardot (three kills, assist); Maya Van Meter (four aces) and Janess O'Kane (two kills) and never looked back. Newton's only offensive point came on an early kill by Carla McCollom.

Newton also had trouble with Winder-Barrow, losing 25-13, 25-15. Joy Pollock led the way in the night cap with three kills.