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Volleyball: Lady Bulldogs fall after hard fight in state tournament
The Rockdale County Lady Bulldogs (8S-AAAA) fell to Sprayberry (7-AAAA) 3-0 in the second round of the state volleyball tournament held in the Rockdale County High School gym Tuesday.

But the Lady Bulldogs acquitted themselves quite well in the loss.

Sprayberry Coach Mary-Kay Wright said the Lady Bulldogs played an aggressive style of defense that took the seventh ranked Lady Yellow Jackets the out of their game at times.

"We'd never played against blocking like that," Coach Wright said. "They are a very good team."

Sprayberry, one year removed from a trip to the volleyball final four, came into the game as heavy favorites and won the first game 25-19 with the final point coming a kill by Katie Gilstrap, one of four six-footers on the Sprayberry team.

Game two was a see-saw affair, but after falling behind 14-10, the Lady Bulldogs rallied to tie the game at 16. Later Raechel Simmons blasted a kill into the middle of the Sprayberry team that no one could handle. Simmons followed up with another kill and the Lady Bulldogs tied the game once again at 18 all. With Sprayberry within a point of winning game two, Lauren Aikens blocked a shot and pulled Rockdale with two points at 24-22. Sprayberry then won on a service error.

Before game three, Coach Stephen Sansing told his team that they had played well in game two and still had a shot.

"We can do this," he told his players.

The Lady Bulldogs scored first, but the Lady Yellow Jackets went on a 6-0 run to lead 6-1. Still, the Lady Bulldogs weren't ready to throw in the towel and fought their way back, eventually tying the game on a Simmons service ace. Each time Sprayberry took the lead the Lady Buldogs answered. A kill by Aikens tied it at 14 all. A block by Libby Bradford tied it 15 all. Bradford and Reanna Bray combined on a block to tie it at 16 all. Bray's service ace tied it 17 all. A block and a follow-up kill by Kendra Lackey tied it a 21 all. Simmons set up as if she were going to launch an aggressive attacking shot but then surprised the Sprayberry players by dropping the ball just over the net, tying the game at 22 all. But the talented Sprayberry team scored the next three points to win the match.

"I am very proud of them," Coach Stephen Sansing said. "They were definitely a very special group, a record-setting group. This was a really great team; they supported each other; they balanced each other; if one was down, another would step up. Even today. We just made a few too many mistakes. Sprayberry has been ranked all season, and I think it speaks well of us that they had to come in here and earn a win."