Rockdale volleyball starts 2-0 at Classic

SUWANEE - The Rockdale volleyball got its stay at the Collins Hill Classic off to a fine start Thursday. The Bulldogs defeated Loganville 2-0 and Parkview 2-1 in its first two matches of the three-day tournament, while the Bulldogs’ final match of the day against host Collins Hill ended too late for this edition.

Leading 1-0 against Class AAAAA Loganville, a former area foe now in a different classification than the Class AAAAAA Bulldogs, Rockdale led just 9-6 after a service error by Abby Bradford. The Bulldogs took over from there as an 8-0 run, helped by three aces from Alycia Johnson, gave the Conyers school a 17-6 cushion.

Loganville scored four quick points, the last of which came on Emma Strong’s serve that grazed off the foot of Rockdale’s Jasmine Edwards and made it a 17-10 game.

Rockdale reasserted itself, thanks to a pair of assists and kill from Natheree Lackey, and the Bulldogs took a 22-10 lead.

A pair of aces by Sarah Hoeting and a kill from Erika Godfree helped the Red Devils get to within 23-14, but University of Georgia commitment Majesti Bass completed a strong match with two of nine kills - all of which were booming, un-playable spikes - and Rockdale closed out the 25-14 match-clinching win.

In a 25-22 game one victory, Rockdale trailed early 8-2 before the Bulldogs’ superior serving took over. Bradford had two aces and three kills while serving and later, Johnson added two aces to help give the Bulldogs the lead for good at 11-10.

Loganville got as close as two points at 20-18 on a Rockdale error.

Rockdale defeated Parkview 2-1 in the opening match of the tournament Thursday afternoon.

In a deciding game three, the Bulldogs never trailed and jumped out to a 7-1 lead on the strengths of two kills by Bradford and a kill and ace from Bass.

Parkview got as close as 7-2 on a Rockdale error, but the Bulldogs weren’t threatened the rest of the way, getting another kill and ace from Bradford and a kill each out of Jahkishma Soto and Nazzerine Waldon to close out a 15-4 win. Normally, deciding games on weekdays are to 25, but since the tournament at Collins Hill runs through the weekend, all game threes are to 15.

“Honestly, they knew that the game was almost over and they turned it up a notch,” said Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing. “I thought originally it was 25. When they heard (15), it was like, OK, all we got to get is 15, OK, let’s get it quick.”

Parkview forced a deciding game with a 25-21 victory in game two. Rockdale led 14-11 on a kill by Bradford, but the Gwinnett County school scored 10 of the next 12 points to go up 21-16. Lackey picked up two of her five game assists on kills by Bass and Bradford as Rockdale hung around at 22-20, but a kill from Rachel Rust clinched the four-point triumph.

“That second game was definitely not our best, but we still had a chance to win,” said Sansing. “That third game was a little bit more of us putting points together.”

Game one was just as tight. Parkview ran out to a 6-1 lead before Rockdale took over with the serve. Lackey had four aces - and assisted on one of two Bradford kills - during a 9-1 spurt that put the Conyers school up 10-7.

It was Johnson’s serve that helped Rockdale maintain its three-point cushion at 14-11 as Johnson had two aces (and added an assist on a kill by Soto).

“Our serve has been real strong the last week or two, we’ve really been working on serving aggressively,” Sansing said of his team, which tied a single-match high with 20 aces earlier in the week against Shiloh. “Even if we don’t get the aces it just takes the other team out of their system.”

Parkview regained the lead at 17-16 on an error by Bass, but never led again. Waldon and Bradford had two kills each, while Bass had her only three kills of the game down the stretch, including a booming kill off a feed from Lackey that secured a 25-23 win.

Rockdale will continue pool play Saturday against Tucker at 8:00 a.m. at Collins Hill. After the 9:00 a.m. matches, the teams will be seeded into gold and silver groups for single-elimination bracket play.