COVINGTON TOWNSHIP – The phrase "The Buck Stops Here" was made famous by Harry S. Truman, and the motto was emblazoned on a sign sitting on the former president's White House desk.
Perhaps if Marian head coach John "Doc" Fallabel had a sign on his dental office desk in Jim Thorpe, it would aptly read, "The Bucks Stop Here."
Last night at North Pocono High School, Fallabel's Fillies knocked off District 2 champion Dunmore in the opening round of the PIAA Class A volleyball tournament by final scores of 25-15, 25-12, 25-20. The three game-sweep marks the second consecutive year that Marian has ousted the Bucks in the first round of the state playoffs.
With the win, Marian advances to Saturday's quarterfinal contest against District 1 champion Christopher Dock (a 25-7, 25-20, 25-22 winner over MaST Community Charter School last night). The game will be played at a site and time to be determined.
"Even though we won the match, I though we played a subpar game tonight. If we would have played like this against Nativity last week, we would have lost three straight," stated Fallabel of his team's performance. "We have a bad habit of playing down to the level of competition we face and we also have a problem with traveling.
"This same thing happened to us against Holy Redeemer in the regular season. When we have long rides and play in new gyms, we just seem to come out flat. That's not going to cut it in the state playoffs. We need to be better."
With the game knotted at 5-5 in the first game, four straight Dunmore errors gave the Fillies a 9-5 advantage. A five-point service run by Grace Boyle expanded the lead to eight and back-to-back kills by Emily Pilla swelled the Marian lead to double digits.
After Dunmore committed 14 errors in game one, the young Bucks made 15 miscues in the second game of the match, as Marian rolled to a 25-12 victory. Sophomore middle blocker Abby Stankiewitch had four of her seven kills in game two.
Dunmore, who lost five seniors from last year's team, and has just one senior on this year's squad, was overwhelmed from the start.
"We have a very young team this year. We start three sophomores, one freshman and one junior," said Dunmore head coach Sue Dempsey. "Marian is a great team, but I thought our girls put up a fight. We played respectable and we're just going to take this as a learning experience to prepare for next year.
"Marian is a great team defensively and their passing is incredible. They also run a very quick offense and we're just not used to seeing that in the league we play in."
The Fillies held the lead throughout the entire third game, but thanks to three Marian hitting errors and two passing errors, the Bucks were able to close the deficit to one point (18-17). However, a Dunmore hitting error and net violation ballooned the Marian lead back up to 20-17. The Bucks would get no closer.
Emily Pilla paced Marian (21-2) with 10 kills, eight digs and a season-high .333 hitting percentage.
"Emily is just on fire right now," added Fallabel. "She has 18 kills in our last two matches and is playing just as good defensively as she is offensively. She has really stepped up her game and we need that out of her."
Abby Stankiewitch added seven kills, while Grace Boyle accounted for six kills and 10 digs. Abby O'Donnell dished off 29 assists and Lauren Nietz factored in with 17 digs.
With six kills in the match, Boyle now has 600 for her career, which puts her in ninth-place on the all-time Marian career kills list.
For Dunmore (19-2), Jill Korgeski tallied seven kills. The junior outside hitter (who has over 500 career kills), has been sidelined for most of this season with a foot injury and has played in just five matches all year.
"A win's a win, but we were very lacksadacial tonight. Our timing was just off," concluded Fallabel. "What worries me is what happened last year. We go through two easier teams to start off the tournament, and then when we get someone that can really play, we aren't prepared for them because we haven't played that caliber of competition in two weeks (since the District 11 championship). We need to work harder and push ourselves to play better, it's as simple as that."