McIntosh inched a step closer to defending their Class AAAAA state volleyball championship with a 3-0 win over the Chamblee Lady Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.

The Chiefs will face Buford in a rematch of last year’s title game. They are one of three Fayette teams to play in the Final Four. Whitewater and Starr’s Mill will play in the other matchup.

“It’s good and I was really hoping that we would come in and do what we did today,” Mabon said. “Chamblee is a very good program and we were ready for them. So, I am very proud, happy, and excited.”

The Chiefs controlled the tempo behind the trio of junior Jessie Doyal and sophomores Ngozi IIoh and Erykah Lovett. They neutralized a finesse Bulldog attack by altering shots and creating offensive opportunities.

Lovett had 5 aces, 3 blocks, and 11 kills in the match. IIoh also added 11 kills, 4 digs, and 1 block. Doyal added 31 assists to propel the offense.

“It was working for us to stay in the middle, and we rolled with what was working,” Mabon said.

McIntosh won set one 25-19 with an aggressive serving attack. They exploited Chamblee’s defense with powerful shots into the corner. This forced the Bulldogs to send short returns to the net, which the Chiefs deposited for easy points. As a team, the Chiefs averaged 2.7 aces per set.

“We really worked to be aggressive on serving to make sure the other team doesn’t run the offense they want to run,” Mabon said. “I think that paid off today as we served very well.”

In set two, the Bulldogs rallied and took an early lead. They relied on sophomore Jade Watson, who carried the team with 14 kills, 2 blocks, and 2 kills in the game. Chamblee jumped out to a 7-2 lead and forced Mabon to call a timeout to calm down her squad.

“We work a lot in practice on those situations and how to deal with those deficits to come back and stay focused on one point at a time,” Mabon said. “I just reminded them that we have been here before and worked on this situation.”

McIntosh rebounded and outscored Chamblee 23-12 to win the set. Lovett ended the set with an ace that sent shockwaves through the home crowd.

In set three, the Chiefs went up by five points and never looked back winning 25-15.

The Chiefs are back in action on Tuesday. Buford comes to town looking to reignite their rivalry. The game starts at 6:00 p.m. and Mabon knows it will be a tough challenge. However, it is one that she knows her team will be ready to take on.

“It’s a lot of emotion going into that one,” Mabon said. “I actually haven’t seen Buford play this year. I have to watch the tape and know what they have and what to expect.”

Around the county, Whitewater and Starr’s Mill punched their tickets to the Final Four. Whitewater marched past Carrolton in three sets behind senior Jenna Bishop. She added 12 kills and 2 aces in the match. Teammates Megan Brubaker had 40 assists and Annette Baker and Destinee Langston added 10 kills each.

Starr’s Mill had a tougher time reaching the Final Four. They battled all night with a game Riverwood Lady Raiders squad. Both teams traded set points until the fifth and final set. In the end, Starr’s Mill held on to a 17-15 win to advance.

It was senior Megan Lee that led the Lady Panthers. She had 28 kills across all five sets and added 14 digs defensively. Teammates Nicole Smith and Lilly Ryan chipped in with 14 and 16 kills respectively.

Starr’s Mill and Whitewater will square off Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Starr’s Mill won the regular season meeting and are 2-1 against the Wildcats this year. Whitewater took the most recent matchup in the semifinals of the region tournament.