Balanced Lassiter eliminates Rockdale

The Lassiter volleyball team has a number of exciting freshman on its roster, but one of the team’s top seniors help close out a playoff win Thursday.

Becca Ledford had four kills in game four, including two late that helped Lassiter defeat Rockdale 3-1 in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.

The Cobb County school, which advanced to the Elite 8 eight times from 2003-2011 before losing in the first round in 2012, is back in the second round and will either host No. 4 seed Centennial or travel to area 1 champion Camden County next week.

Rockdale, which was the runner-up in Area 8 and playing in the state playoffs for a school-record fifth consecutive season, finished 43-13.

Ledford is one of four seniors for Lassiter (33-22), the No. 3 seed from Area 4, and she helped get the visitors the early game four lead with a kill. Rockdale got to within one point on three occasions - at 10-9 on a kill by Alycia Johnson, at 14-13 on a Lassiter error and when Jahkishma Soto had an ace to make it 18-17.

That forced Lassiter coach Greg Hodge to take a time out and it paid off. A Rockdale service error and an ace from Kayla Merwin pushed the advantage out to 20-17 and it never fell below three points the rest of the way.

Rockdale’s Majesti Bass, a University of Georgia commitment, had a fantastic game four, picking up seven kills, including four during a quick 5-1 run that tied the game at 8-8. Bass was on the bench for a stretch after that and it allowed freshman Alexus Holt to secure two aces and a kill and give Lassiter the lead for good. The Trojans took control of the match at 2-1 with a 25-22 triumph in a back-and-forth game three.

Rockdale led by four points early on, but for a majority of the game neither team could feel comfortable. There were eight ties and three lead changes, but Lassiter took the final lead, erasing a 20-16 deficit with nine of the last 11 points, including two of Holt’s three kills down the stretch.

Lassiter held off Rockdale in game one, 25-22.

With the game tied, senior Kenzie Smith had a block-kill to put the Trojans up 19-18. Rockdale pulled to within 22-21 on an Abby Bradford ace, and later got a kill from Soto to make it 24-22, but Smith and freshman Libby Bochniak each had a kill down the stretch to help the Trojans hang on.

Rockdale bounced back with a game two win.

It looked as if the Bulldogs might cruise, building their largest lead at 17-8 on Johnson’s ace. Though Ledford had a pair of kills, Natheree Lackey fed Bradford and Chloe Brown for kills to help Rockdale maintain a six-point advantage at 21-15.

Lassiter didn’t quit. Bochniak had two kills, freshman Micah Esnor added one of her own, and Caylee Yanes had consecutive aces to help make it 24-23. Bass went long on a kill opportunity on Rockdale’s first shot at match point, but Bass didn’t misfire again as her kill off a feed from Lackey clinched a 25-23 win and evened the match.