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Bulldogs repeat as Area 8 volleyball champs

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Rockdale's Brittany Frost serves during the Bulldogs' 2-0 home sweep of Heritage on Tuesday.

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Rockdale's Brittany Frost serves during the Bulldogs' 2-0 home sweep of Heritage on Tuesday.

MT. AIRY -- The Rockdale volleyball team did it again. After splitting their first two games with Apalachee, the Bulldogs won the final two games 25-21 and 25-17 to win their second consecutive Area 8-AAAA championship Saturday at Habersham Central High School.

Rockdale, which had never won an area title until last year's team went unbeaten against area foes, will host a first-round match at 5 p.m. Thursday.

This season, Coach Stephen Sansing had to replace a number of starters, including 2010 area player of the year Lauren Aikens (now at Winston-Salem State), but his team didn't miss a beat. Kendra Lackey, a right side hitter who Saturday was named the area's player of the year, picked up Aikens' offensive slack and led the team in kills, while Libby Bradford was named the first team setter for the second consecutive season.

"Considering it's pretty much two different teams ... it's pretty sweet," Sansing said of the back-to-back titles. "Last year, I had a lot of expectations. This year it was more of a surprise. In the end, we accomplished the same goals we always have."

A trio of Bulldogs who came off the bench in 2010 became starters in 2011 and were rewarded with all-area second team selections: middle hitter Abby Bradford, outside hitter Brittany Frost and libero Alex Adams.

"Contributions from a lot of new players," Sansing said.

Before winning the area title, Rockdale clinched a state playoff spot with a 2-0 win over Apalachee (25-18, 25-18) in the first match of the day. In the winner's bracket final, the Bulldogs defeated Clarke Central 2-0 (25-21, 25-14), setting up the rematch with the Wildcats.