It was a first for the Rockdale volleyball team this weekend at Creekview High School. The Bulldogs advanced to the gold bracket for the first time in three tries in the Sequoyah Classic, finishing 3-2 in the 32-team tournament.
Rockdale, which has reached the state playoffs in four consecutive seasons, had advanced to the silver bracket in its previous two appearances at Sequoyah, but broke through Saturday after winning both its pool games.
Rockdale began the tournament Friday with wins over Milton (25-16, 25-13) and Mt. Vernon Presbyterian (25-14, 25-17), which set up a match with South Forsyth Saturday. The early morning match didn’t go Rockdale’s way as the Eagles, a Class AAAAAA Elite 8 team from a year ago, dominated in a 25-12, 25-14 victory.
“I don’t think we woke up yet. It was awful, we looked like a JV team out there,” said Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing. “But then we regrouped.”
Sansing’s team was the No. 2 seed and knocked off No. 1 seed Senoraville, though not before losing game one 25-21. The Bulldogs won game two 25-16 and the deciding third game 15-8 to win its first-ever gold bracket match. Senior setter Natheree Lackey had 23 assists in the three games.
“For us to win that three-game match against Senoraville, that was pretty good,” Sansing said. “We had just lost to South Forsyth, we could’ve kind of folded, but we didn’t (and) we played probably our most complete match of the tournament.”
That set up a rematch with South Forsyth and the Conyers school was more competitive, though ultimately dropped another 2-0 match, 25-14, 25-21.
“We actually didn’t play that badly,” Sansing said of the rematch. “We had them on the ropes (in game two) we just couldn’t pull it off. We want to eventually get over the hump of beating a team like South Forsyth. I think we were a little intimidated at the beginning of the day, but we started playing better as the day went on. First time we’ve ever made the gold bracket at Sequoyah. We got plenty of room for improvement (but) the effort was there all weekend.”
Lackey finished the tournament with 59 assists, while Abby Bradford had 12 of her team-high 32 kills against Senoraville. Majesti Bass, who has verbally committed to the University of Georgia, had 31 kills and Nazzerine Waldon added 15.
Rockdale will play Tuesday at Grayson against the host Rams at 5:00 p.m and Duluth at 6:00 p.m.