It's back-to-back Region 8-AAAA regular season championships for the Rockdale volleyball team.
The Bulldogs defeated second-placed Clarke Central 2-1 on Thursday to finish with a 9-1 region record (32-11 overall), and earn the top seed in this week's area playoffs.
"It's a great accomplishment," Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said. "Even though we won last year, this is a new team. For them to be able to go out and finish No. 1 speaks to their preparation and their work in the offseason. I have a lot of great kids."
For the Bulldogs, six of their 14 players are seniors - who were celebrated during Tuesday's 2-0 win over Salem - and out of the other eight many are playing key varsity minutes for the first time.
Despite the inexperience several of the Bulldogs' players brought to the court this year, they managed to put up accomplishments such as the first place finish, in-season tournament victories and streaks- of nine and 10-straight wins. Rockdale has also put together its impressive season by winning five matches in which it lost the first set.
That's what happened Thursday in Rockdale's wins against both Clarke Central and Greenbrier. The Bulldogs lost the first set 18-25 against Greenbrier, before winning 25-17 and 26-24. Against Clarke Central, Rockdale fell 23-25 before winning 25-12 and 25-15.
"We talk about how that's why we play three," Sansing said. "It's just one game, and they know that I've got full confidence in them when they're in that situation."
While Rockdale is capable of winning after it goes down one set, the Bulldogs are hoping things go a little easier in the region tournament. The Bulldogs have a bye in the first round and play a team to be determined in Tuesday's play-in matches. Salem will play Cedar Shoals, and the winner of that match will play the fourth-seeded Winder-Barrow. That winner will face Rockdale on Thursday.
"It's great to be the No. 1 seed going into the tournament, but the job is unfinished right now," Sansing said. "We still have to take care of business in the tournament, and we're definitely going to have to focus on that."