Finn Millians goes up for a kill early in Saturday’s state championship match. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)
Lynsey Hamblin posted 4 aces, 8 assists, and 7 digs.

McIntosh’s dreams of a third state volleyball championship were dashed by a fearsome foe, as the Buford Wolves claimed the title 3-1 (25-11, 25-11, 23-25, 25-12) Saturday afternoon at Marietta High School. The win gives the Wolves consecutive crowns.
“This team is such a neat group of young ladies who truly love the game, and, more importantly, love each other,” praised McIntosh coach Wendy Mabon. “I am so proud, and I feel lucky I had the chance to coach them to a state finals appearance.”
The Chiefs struggled all match against a Buford team blessed with height and talent throughout their lineup. The Wolves jumped out to an early lead in the opening set. Lynsey Hamblin kept McIntosh within 11-7 on a short lob, but Buford reeled off another run to take a 16-8 lead to force a timeout. It did not cool their momentum as they followed with another five-point run and a second Chief timeout. Jessie Doyal and Shelby Doyal each notched a kill, and Caroline Cameron added a tip shot at the net as they tried to claw back, but Buford put them away with a 25-11 win.
The start of the second set was a nightmare for McIntosh as Buford surged out to an 11-0 lead. The gap would balloon all the way to 21-2 before the Chiefs finally found their footing, both Doyals scoring to narrow the gap. Hamblin posted 3 aces, but the gap was just too great as Buford took the second set 25-11.
With their backs against the wall, McIntosh was determined they would not go away quietly. A Nell Copeland ace helped build a small lead early, and a tremendous save by Brianna Beccera at the bench helped keep it going at 7-5. Elise Mackanych notched a pair of blocks as they tried to fend of a Buford as their lead slowly slipped away. The Wolves surged in front 17-14, leading to a Chief timeout, but they could not quite turn things around yet. Facing elimination and down 22-17, the Chiefs called another timeout to regroup. Cameron’s kill started the rally, and a Hamblin cut the gap to two. McIntosh would not be denied, Cameron serving up an ace to take a 24-23 lead. They finished off the 25-23 set win to keep themselves alive, a spectacular Hamblin dig setting the table for a Finn Millians kill.
“We worked really hard and improved throughout the year to make it to the finals. After dropping the first two sets, the girls showed a lot of heart to come back and take the third set,” said Mabon.
The Chiefs built on the momentum with a strong start to the fourth set, Avery Chaffin and Jessie Doyal teaming up for a block and a 3-1 lead. The pair combined again for another block to tie it at 4-4 before the Wolves went on another run, forcing McIntosh to use a timeout at 11-6. Cameron tallied a pair of kills to keep the Chiefs within five points, but Buford was just too much down the stretch, outscoring them 10-2 the rest of the way to seal up the 25-12 win and the state championship.
Caroline Cameron and Jessie Doyal tied for the team lead in kills for the match with 7 apiece, followed by Finn Millians and Shelby Doyal with 5 apiece. Cameron led in digs with 14, Brianna Beccera adding 13. Nell Copeland tallied 15 assists. Lynsey Hamblin posted 4 aces, 8 assists, and 7 digs.
The loss stings now, but the championship game experience should come in handy with plenty of talent returning.
“I’m super excited about next season,” said Mabon. “With eight returning players, we’ll be looking to repeat our trip to the finals.”