POTTSVILLE – Last night, the Marian volleyball team did what it was supposed to do.
Tomorrow night, the Fillies get a chance to do what they haven't been able to accomplish in eight straight tries.
With a convincing three-game semifinal sweep (25-8, 25-8, 25-8) over Lehigh Valley Christian, Marian (17-2) will get one more opportunity against undefeated Nativity (a 25-14, 25-15, 25-12 winner over Tri-Valley) for the District 11, Class A Championship and an automatic berth into the PIAA State Tournament. Thursday's Championship match is set for 7:00 p.m. at Martz Hall.
While the Fillies defeated the Green Wave in Saturday's pool play (25-20, 25-23) to earn the top-seed in the District Tournament, Nativity has won the last six regular season meetings and has defeated Marian in the District Championship in each of the past two years.
In fact, while Marian head coach John "Doc" Fallabel holds an 11-9 advantage in the rivalry, only one player on this year's squad has ever been a part of a Fillies victory over the Green Wave (senior Devin Parambo, who as a freshman in 2006 helped Marian to a semifinal victory over Nativity, en route to its last District Championship).
"The girls are playing good volleyball right now," stated Fallabel. "They're playing very relaxed and cohesive and they went out there and had fun. I think you were able to see that on the court tonight."
The Fillies fell behind 3-1 in the opening game of the match, but it was the only lead the Cougars would see all night. Following three consecutive kills by senior co-captains Parambo and Abby Owsinski and an eight-point service run by senior Regina Marzen, Marian found themselves back on top 10-3. Parambo and Owsinki each added three more kills apiece and Marian closed out game one on a four-point service run by Katelyn Collevechio for the 25-8 victory.
Marian also rolled to a 25-8 victory in the second game, behind six service points (three aces) by Rachel Krajcirik and four additional kills from Owsinski.
"Lehigh Valley Christian came here to play and we prepared for them the same way we would any other team," added Fallabel. "They might not be on the same level as us, but their girls went out and competed and did the best that they could."
The Fillies, who defeated the Cougars 25-20, 25-3 during Saturday's pool play, raced out to 9-0 lead in the third game behind a nine-point service run from Laura Cinicola, which included four aces. Marian tallied 9 of its 15 aces in the third game alone and Owsinski added another six kills in the 25-8 victory.
Lehigh Valley Christian had just three service points and eight kills as a team during the three-game match. Nicole Derminio accounted for six of the Cougars' eight kills.
For Marian, Owsinski had 16 kills on 17 attacks, while Parambo notched 11 kills, six points and nine digs. Tori Vadyak added seven kills on the night and Sarah Connely tallied six kills and four blocks. Setter Rachel Krajcirik dished off 36 assists to go along with 12 points (five aces), while Taylor Mele (21 digs) and Cathleen Cataldo (10 digs) played great back row defense. Marzen and Cinicola came off the bench with 10 and nine service points respectively.
"I think every single girl on this team is contributing and playing great volleyball right now," stated Owsinski. "We got a huge boost on Saturday when we knocked off Nativity and that's something this team desperately needed. We now know that we can beat them and I think that gives us a lot of confidence going into Thursday's game."
Speaking of confidence, when Fallabel was asked about a rematch with Nativity and how his team will do on Thursday...he paused, smiled and then summed it all up in four simple words, "The best we can."