POTTSVILLE – This year has been a season of firsts for the Weatherly girls volleyball program.
Not only did the Lady Wreckers post their first winning season in school history, they also made their debut in the District 11 Class A Tournament with their first playoff appearance since the program's inception in 2003.
However, if the Wreckers came into Martz Hall last night with the intention of getting their first win against Marian, the Fillies quickly proved them wrong.
With a 25-9, 25-21, 25-16 victory, the top-seeded Fillies kept their undefeated season intact and will now battle archrival Nativity (a 25-12, 25-10, 25-17 winner over Tri-Valley) Thursday Night at Martz Hall (7:00 p.m.) for the District 11 Class A Championship and a berth into the PIAA State Tournament.
With last night's win, Marian is now 16-0 lifetime against Weatherly, and even more impressive is the fact that the Fillies have never even dropped a game (48-0) to the Wreckers over the span of the past eight years.
"Nicole (Selert) and Bob (Selert) have really done a nice job with the Weatherly program over the past two years," stated Marian head coach John "Doc" Fallabel. "They might not be on the same level as us or Nativity right now, but they are head and shoulders above where they were just a few years ago. Their hard work is starting to pay off and those girls should be very proud of the season they just had."
Marian wasted no time welcoming the Wreckers to the playoffs, as Taylor Mele fired off six straight service points for a 7-0 lead. Rachel Krajcirik's five-point service run extended the Marian lead to 14-2, and the Fillies held a double-digit lead until Nikki Collevechio finished the game with five straight points for the 25-9 game one victory.
"I think we let our nerves get the best of us in that first game," stated Weatherly head coach Nicole Selert. "Once the girls got settled down, they started playing better volleyball."
After back-to-back service points by Sarah Dolinsky and a kill by Brittany Hinkle, the Wreckers found themselves with an 8-5 lead over Marian early in the second game. The Fillies, hurt by their own mistakes, committed five service errors and six hitting errors in a game the Wreckers had them on the ropes. However, Marian eventually forced a 17-17 tie and a Tori Vadyak block jumped-started a five-point Marian run that resulted in a 22-17 lead behind four service points by Mele and two kills apiece by Vadyak and Marykate Sherkness.
"For as good as we played in that first game, we came out in the second game and just laid an egg," stated Fallabel about his team's inconsistent play. "I don't even have an answer for it, but our second game struggles as of late are definitely starting to become a concern."
One thing that wasn't a concern to Fallabel was the play of Vadyak, a senior middle hitter who tallied six of her 13 kills in the 25-21 game two win.
"I think that Tori broke 200 kills for the season tonight and she just played one heckuva game," lauded Fallabel. "She has solidified herself as our number two hitter and she really compliments Marykate in helping to balance out our rotations."
In game three, Mele once again ignited the Fillies to a 6-1 lead, and a five-point service run by Rachel Krajcirik swelled the lead to 13-5. Sherkness tallied seven of her team-high 15 kills in the third set, including the final put away that capped off a 25-16 victory.
"We've accomplished a lot of good things this year, but our main goal was to get here (Martz Hall)," added assistant coach Bob Selert. "We may not have beaten Marian, but we made it to the semifinals, and I think that speaks volumes for the program."
Brittany Hinkle led Weatherly with five kills, 11 digs and three blocks. Rachel Heister added 10 digs and 8 assists, while Alyssa Kephart tacked on 10 digs, three assists and four blocks. Sarah Dolinsky chipped in with nine digs and three kills, while Alicia Panzarella and Samantha Strizak added 10 and nine digs respectively.
For Marian, Marykate Sherkness had 15 kills and nine digs, while Tori Vadyak (13 kills) and Kathleen Reilly (six kills) provided plenty of front row attacks. Rachel Krajcirik dished off 32 assists to go along with seven digs and five aces, while Taylor Mele contributed 17 service points (four aces), nine digs and three assists. Libero Cathleen Cataldo added 10 digs.
"On Thursday night (against Nativity), we just need to go out and play our game," concluded Fallabel, as his team eyes its first District Championship since 2006. "We need to attack as much as we can and play solid defense, and that's what Marian volleyball is all about."