The road to Georgia volleyball supremacy ran through Fayette County again this season. Five teams made the playoffs with McIntosh, Starr’s Mill and Whitewater all making the Final Four in Class AAAAA.
McIntosh and Starr’s Mill renewed their rivalry in the state title game. The championship edition of the Battle of the Bubble series went to the Chiefs as they won back-to-back titles. It was McIntosh’s fourth state title in program history.
“They’re such a cool group of kids,” McIntosh head coach Wendy Mabon said following the championship game. “They love the game, and, what’s more, I told them before the match, of all the teams I’ve ever coached, this team loves playing with each other the most.”
Several players acknowledged the amount of talent in the county. McIntosh senior Ngozi Iloh summed it up with a simple quote.
“It’s really cool to have such good volleyball players in our backyard,” Iloh said.
With that said, it’s time to shine a light on the talented athletes. Here are the 2018 All-County volleyball teams.
Leading the way, McIntosh junior setter Jessie Doyal is the Player of the Year. Doyal was phenomenal all season as she posted 988 assists, 119 kills, and 58 aces. On defense, she recorded 213 digs and blocked 18 shots. In the state title game, Doyal led the Chiefs with 34 assists. She also added 4 aces against Starr’s Mill.
“As our setter, she’s the quarterback of the team,” Mabon said. “Her leadership and consistency kept us steady and focused all season. She’s such a great teammate both on and off the court.”
Starr’s Mill head coach Jason Flowers is our Coach of the Year. Flowers was the new coach on the block and he held his own in his first season in charge of the team. He led the Lady Panthers to a 33-17 record and a berth in the Class AAAAA state championship game. In the state playoffs, Flowers guided his team with four road victories.
Flowers dedicates his success to his players. He was proud of how they fought throughout the entire season.
“It’s their ability to fight through the last two rounds and not give up and not quit,” Flowers said. “We’re not satisfied with just getting (to the state championship), but we’re really happy with how we got there.”
Starr’s Mill’s Nicole Smith is the Freshman of the Year. Smith played a key role throughout the season and broke out in the state playoffs. She collected 261 kills and 96 blocks. She also added a .317 hitting percentage that was boosted by 45 aces.
“Nicole always plays phenomenal and is committed to Georgia Tech,” Starr’s Mill senior Megan Lee said. “She is really good and is so tall. I just love her.”
The All-County first team is comprised of strong athletes.
McIntosh sends a trio of sophomores in Erykah Lovett, Claire Lewis, and Ngozi Iloh. Lovett had a great season with 402 kills, 47 aces, 28 blocks, and 358 digs. Lewis led the team with 469 digs and posted 46 aces. Iloh chipped in with 328 kills, 50 blocks, and 97 digs.
Starr’s Mill has three players joining Smith on the first team. Megan Lee is on the team after posting a .241 hitting percentage with 341 kills and 310 digs. She also added 54 aces. Junior setter Tessa Laney made the squad with 916 assists, 285 digs, 96 aces, and 76 blocks. Junior libero Georgia Waller had 449 digs, 54 aces and 76 assists. She also had 656 serves received and committed just 49 errors.
Whitewater has four players on the first team. Seniors Jenna Bishop, Carrington Terrell, and Megan Brubaker led the list. Junior outside hitter Destinee Langston makes the team as well. Bishop was dominant as a middle hitter this season. She earned first team All-State with 287 kills, 70 aces, and 120 blocks. Terrell collected 245 kills, 144 blocks, and 34 digs. Brubaker, a senior setter, had 71 aces and 181 digs. Langston had 297 kills, 33 blocks, and .314 hit percentage.
Fayette County has two players on the first team. Junior right-side hitter Naomi Franco and senior libero Kyanna Bingham were stalwarts for the Tigers.
Sandy Creek has two on the team. Brooke Boling headlines the Patriots and was considered the team MVP. She had 260 kills, 70 aces, and 125 digs. Lindsey Tapp joins her as an outside hitter with 212 kills, 55 block assists, and 54 aces.
Our Lady of Mercy senior Tamia Hall rounds out the first team.
The All-County second team is just as talented. McIntosh has junior Reagan Corley and freshman Alexa Markley on the team. Corley, a middle hitter, had 219 kills, 17 blocks, and 74 digs. Markley, a freshman middle back, had 120 kills, 18 blocks, and 14 digs.
Starr’s Mill junior Kayla Sloan, Whitewater’s Annette Baker and Ashlyn Cole, and Sandy Creek’s Haley Janeski join the team. Sloan had 168 kills, 75 aces, 194 digs, and 40 blocks. Baker, a sophomore outside hitter, had 249 kills, 33 aces, and 41 blocks. Cole had 58 aces and 394 digs. Janeski had 363 assists, 39 aces, and 136 digs.
Fayette County rounds out the second team with six athletes. Freshmen Micaela Carswell and Grace Picklesimer join upperclassmen India Gay, Jania Watson, Diana Nyarko, and Baylie Dunham.
Several players also deserve an honorable mention. Those players include Starr’s Mill junior outside hitter Lilli Ryan and junior middle back Piper Dedrick. Ryan had 163 kills and 43 aces. Dedrick had 80 kills and .331 hitting percentage.
Whitewater’s senior honoree is Courtney Patterson. She had 256 digs, 54 kills, and 47 aces.
Fayette places three honorees in Trinity Irby, Janae Hendrix, and Tae’la Brown. Our Lady of Mercy senior Jolie Butts rounds out the list.
The season was strong for every team in the county. McIntosh, Starr’s Mill, and Whitewater all finished inside the top-10 in Class AAAAA. Now, it’s only seven months until the 2019 campaign begins.
To see more photos from the season, click here.