For the Rockdale volleyball team, the second round of the state playoffs is starting to become familiar territory.
The Bulldogs, fresh off a thrilling, 3-2 win over Northgate in a first round match last week -- the school's second straight season with a first round win -- host Harris County with a spot in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals on the line.
"I told them I've never been as proud of any team I've coached," Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said after the win over Northgate. "That was a like a sweet 16 match up right there."
Before Rockdale, the two-time Area 8-AAAA champions, can dream of playing in the elite 8 for the first time in school history, first thing's first: handle a Harris County team that finished as Area 1-AAAA runner-up.
While the junior and senior-laden Tigers are back in the state tournament for the second consecutive season, the Bulldogs, with a number of new starters, are experiencing the pressures of the state playoffs for the first time as a group. If the come-from-behind win over Northgate in the opening round (the visiting Vikings led 2-0 before Rockdale stormed back to take the final three games) is any indication, the Conyers school should be more than ready to handle the second round.
"That's part of it ... this is really their first playoff action," Sansing said.
Rockdale and Harris County play at 5 p.m. tonight. The winner advances to the quarterfinals, which, after the eight teams are re-seeded, takes place at the higher-seeded team's campus Oct. 22.