For head coach John "Doc" Fallabel and the entire Marian volleyball program, it's been a long wait.
For seven Marian seniors, the weight has finally been lifted off their shoulders.
Last night in front of a raucous crowd in Hometown, the Fillies defeated Nativity in four games, 25-17, 28-26, 25-27 and 25-20. The win keeps Marian undefeated on the season (4-0) and sitting alone atop the Schuylkill League Division 4 standings.
It was the first time since October 31, 2006 (in a District 11 Class A semifinal matchup), that Marian has knocked off Nativity, a span that has seen the Green Wave post nine consecutive wins over the Fillies.
It was also the first time in ten tries that Kathleen Reilly, Rachel Krajcirik, Cathleen Cataldo, Taylor Mele, Katelyn Collevechio, Lauran Cinicola and Tori Vadyak have tasted victory over Nativity.
"This win was all them," stated Fallabel as he pointed to his team still celebrating on the court. "This group of girls wanted this win more than anything and they went out there and did what they needed to do to get it. I couldn't be more happy for them."
Taylor Mele wasted no time making an early impression as she started the match with four straight aces to put the Fillies ahead 5-0. After Nativity fought back to tie the game at 13-13, Mele once again ripped off a five-point service run to put her team ahead 19-13, en route to the 25-17 victory.
"This is just an amazing feeling right now," stated Mele. "We knew we had to do it this year (beat Nativity) and we weren't going to let ourselves lose."
Marian took control of the second game by jumping out to a 19-11 lead. But Nativity put on an amazing rally and capitalized off Marian mistakes to take a 25-24 lead off back-to-back kills by Emily Kaledas. Twice the Green Wave was serving for game-point, but twice Marian thwarted their efforts off big kills by Kathleen Reilly and Marykate Sherkness to tie the game. Mele then put Marian ahead 27-26 with a kill, and Sherkness ended it with an ace for the 28-26 victory.
"You have to give Nativity credit for fighting back," added Fallabel. "I think we started getting a little complacent out there and they took advantage of the opportunity."
Nativity then seized control of the third game and raced out to leads of 21-13 and 24-16. However, this time, it was Marian that orchestrated a rally for the ages, before eventually falling a bit short. Mele closed the gap to 24-19 with three straight service points, including a fluky play gave the Fillies new life after it looked like Nativity had won the game. Mele then continued her service run with six more points to put Marian ahead 25-24, before Nativity's Elizabeth Shollenberger ended the game with a kill and two service aces.
In the fourth game, Marian jumped ahead 6-5 and held the lead for the remainder of the game, en route to the 25-20 victory.
"I'm kind of at a loss for words right now," said Fillies captain Rachel Krajcirik. "We've been so determined to beat Nativity for the last four years and tonight we saw all our hard work finally pay off."
Krajcirik ended the night with 36 assists and 22 digs, while Mele recorded 22 service points (nine aces), 29 digs and six kills. Sherkness also tallied 24 kills (on 62 attacks) to led the Fillies' front line, while Reilly had eight kills and Vadyak added four kills and three blocks. Cataldo added 15 digs for Marian.
For Nativity (3-1), Courtney Field (33 assists, 14 digs, six blocks, five kills), Emily Kaledas (12 kills, 12 blocks), and Emily Grube (22 digs, nine kills, five assists) led the way.
Marian won the JV game, 25-13, 25-13.