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Rockdale to play Pope in quarterfinals

The2011 Rockdale volleyball team has reached a point in the season that none of its predecessors have ever achieved.

The Bulldogs reached the AAAA elite eight by defeating Harris County 3-1 on Tuesday. 

However, Rockdale will lose its No. 1 seed thanks to the GHSA's reseeding in the elite eight.  Not only did Rockdale fall from a No. 1 seed, and lose its home court advantage, but the Bulldogs were placed as the eighth team among the eight teams left.

The Bulldogs will continue their playoff run at No. 1 seed Pope on Saturday.

Against Harris County, Rockdale (38-11) jumped out to a big lead early in the first game before holding off a rally and deflating the visiting Tigers for the rest of the match. The Bulldogs outscored Harris County 16-8 in the first set, before the Tigers top hitter got going.

Behind Harris County's best player, it took a 24-21 lead. However, Rockdale then scored the final five points of the game to win 26-24.

"That mentally took them out of the game, you could tell," Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said. "We jumped on them in game two, quick."

Rockdale took a 9-4 lead early and then stretched its lead to 15-9. From there Tianna Brown served nine straight points to make it 24-9. Harris County stopped the run with a point of its own, before Rockdale finished the set to win 25-10.

"They were just shell shocked from losing that first game as close as it was," Sansing said. "That's one thing we talked about, was jumping out on teams when we knew they would be kind of mentally let down."

Rockdale then led the third game 3-2, before the Tigers took over and led the rest of the way to win 25-23.

"I told them a team that's in this spot, I didn't expect them to go out there and lose every game," Sansing told his team before game four. "They were going to go out ready to play, and we expected them to win one. But I told them we were going to win this one."

Indeed, Rockdale won the fourth set 25-17, behind strong defense on the back line.

Rockdale now waits for a reseeding in the elite eight to find out who and where they play on Saturday.