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Bulldogs In quarterfinals for first time

— CONYERS -- A whole lot of history was made inside Rockdale High School's quaint gymnasium Tuesday evening. The Bulldogs' volleyball team erased an early deficit in game four and rolled to a 25-17 win over Harris County, clinching a 3-1 victory in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

Rockdale (38-11) advances to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history and will play a Saturday match at Class AAAA No. 1 Pope.

"The hard work we put in, up here all summer. It's nice for our work to be validated," said Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing. "It's nice for the girls to be able to advance like this. This is great."

In the clinching game four, Rockdale trailed 8-4 early as Sarah Howard had a pair of aces and Bianca Brochu a pair of kills. But the Bulldogs took control from there, embarking on a 19-5 run, aided by three kills and four assists from Kendra Lackey and five helpers from first-team all-area setter Libby Bradford. Harris County (27-13), the No. 2 seed from Area 1-AAAA, got to within 23-17, but Lackey's block-kill helped put away the visitors from Hamilton. For Lackey, the Area 8-AAAA player of the year, it's been another great run after the 2010 team reached the second round for the first time ever.

"It's been a real crazy time," Lackey said. "We came to the sweet 16 last year, we wanted to go far ... so this year we wanted to go even farther. It's been pretty crazy."

Down two games-to-none, Harris County avoided elimination with a 25-23 win in game three. The Tigers never trailed after going up 11-10 on a Rockdale error, but what seemed to be a commanding 24-18 lead quickly deteriorated as the Bulldogs' 5-0 run made it a 24-23 game. After several nice plays from both sides, Brittany Frost's shot was just out of bounds to secure Harris County's win.

"I knew they were going to come back on us. They've been a very solid team, they know how to win," Sansing said of Harris County.

Rockdale led for much of game one before Brochu took over. The senior outside hitter, who is uncommitted to a college, had eight of her game-high 11 kills during a 10-0 Tigers run (part of a 15-3 spurt) that helped turn a 19-14 deficit into a 23-19 lead. Rockdale didn't panic, fighting back to tie the game at 24-24 before an error and Lackey's ace clinched a 26-24 win.

"The fact we were able to take (game one), that was a big momentum swing," said Sansing.

Game two was all Rockdale. The Bulldogs never trailed in building two 15-point leads, the last of which clinched a 25-10 win that made it a 2-0 match.

Now Rockdale moves on to bigger and better things, playing the 40-2 Greyhounds, who have only lost nine games all season and none since September 17.