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Rockdale volleyball falls to Apalachee

CONYERS -- Rockdale's volleyball team erased a 10-point deficit in the deciding game three against Apalachee on Tuesday, but it wasn't enough. In a 23-23 game, Apalachee forced two Rockdale errors to pull out a 25-23 win and a 2-1 match victory over the Bulldogs, pulling both teams even at 3-1 in area competition.

The Wildcats had a commanding, 21-11 lead until Rockdale came storming back. Libby Bradford assisted on three kills and her younger sister Abby had three aces and two kills to cap a 12-2 run and tie it at 23-23. But serving with the game on the line, a team error preceded Kendra Lackey's shot that was ruled out by inches, handing the match to Apalachee.

Apalachee forced the deciding game 3 with a huge run in the middle game. Down 18-15, the Wildcats ran off nine consecutive points, three by Ryan Burke on two kills and an ace, to go up 24-18 in an eventual 25-20 victory. Rockdale dominated the first game, getting four kills from Jaida Allen and three aces and two kills from Brittany Frost to win 25-8.

Rockdale dropped a 2-1 decision to Locust Grove out of Henry County in a non-area match to start the night. Down 1-0 in the match, the Bulldogs never trailed in game two, taking a 17-11 on two of Kendra Lackey's four kills, then holding off a late Locust Grove rally to score seven of the last nine points, three on a kill each from Frost, Libby Bradford and Alycia Johnson to win 25-16. In game three, Rockdale built a big lead early at 11-4, thanks to a pair of assists and an ace from Bradford, but the visiting Wildcats didn't quit. Aided by several Rockdale errors, and Megan Hanekamp's ace, Locust Grove went on an 8-0 run to go up 12-11. The teams went back and forth the rest of the way as seven ties help shape the final stretch, though Rockdale never took the lead back. With the score tied at 22-22, Jamie's Smith ace and a kill by Katie Foster off a feed from Hanekamp helped clinch a 25-23 win.

"We just didn't play with a sense of urgency at times, I don't know," said Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing. "The one thing they did was they took us out of our game, our game is attacking. They were swinging away and we were defensive. Locust Grove came out and established themselves, and we backed down, and that can't happen. We did play hard down the stretch, just not enough."

Locust Grove ended Rockdale's 10-game winning streak in the first game of the match, winning 25-22. Like in the final two games, Rockdale held leads only to see the Wildcats climb back. Down 15-11, Marie Eidson had four consecutive aces, which forced a Rockdale time out, and after the Bulldogs tied the score at 20-20 on an error, Sabiyah Broderick helped out with a pair of kills to help finish off a 25-22 win.

"We had leads in all three games. (Locust Grove) adjusted," Sansing said. "There's a reason we brought in teams like Locust Grove. I made sure to bring in teams this year that were going to challenge us. That's the idea. We got to be able to show up and play anyone that comes into the gym. That's a lesson for us."

In the middle match, Locust Grove won 2-0 over Apalachee, 25-18, 25-16.