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Bulldogs Try To Take Down Defending Champs

— Another dream season continues for the Rockdale volleyball team. After the 2010 team reached the second round of the state playoffs for the first time in school history, the 2011 version did them one better Tuesday evening in Conyers. Rockdale came from behind to win game one, dominated game two and after visiting Harris County staved off elimination with a game three win, the Bulldogs erased an early deficit to take control and win the deciding fourth game, 25-17. That victory for the 38-11 Bulldogs puts the two-time Area 8-AAAA champions in the program’s first state quarterfinals. Rockdale, the No. 8 seed, will travel to top seed Pope, the defending state champions, Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Rockdale almost didn’t make it out of the first round. Northgate came to Conyers with a state ranking and grabbed a 2-0 lead before a stunned home crowd at Rockdale. But the Bulldogs, who had to replace several starters, including 2010 area player of the year Lauren Aikens (now at Winston-Salem State University), didn’t quit, winning the final three games to advance. Tuesday’s win over Harris County wasn’t nearly as dramatic, but coach Stephen Sansing is getting used to seeing his team persevere.

“The hard work we put in, up here all summer. It’s nice for our work to be validated. It’s nice for the girls to be able to advance like this,” Sansing said after the sweet 16 win. “I know I can go to war with this team.”

Now Rockdale will try to stun the state and move on to the Class AAAA semi finals, which is hosted by Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, October 26.

First, they'll have to go through the Greyhounds, who are an incredible 40-2 having lost just nine games all year and none since September 17. The Cobb County school won its first Class AAAA state title in 2010 and also captured the AAAAA crown in 2009.