BY JASON BORIS
Marian entered last night's game against Nativity undefeated.
They also came in as the Schuylkill League Division 4 champions.
However, lost in all that was the fact that this year's Fillies are still a very young and inexperienced team.
Last night, their youth finally showed, as Nativity swept Marian in three straight games by final scores of 28-26, 25-23,25-10.
The loss ended a 26-game regular season winning streak for Marian (12-1), whose roster (12 girls) is comprised of five freshmen and four sophomores.
"Tonight, our girls played really tight and our freshmen played like freshmen," stated Marian head coach John "Doc" Fallabel. "Is it a bad thing that we lost? No. Am I upset that we lost? No. We're a young team and these girls need to taste defeat to see if they can bounce back from it."
Meanwhile, Nativity (four-time defending District 11, Class A champions) turned to the experience and leadership of seniors Emily Kaledas and Elizabeth Shollenberger.
Kaledas (a middle hitter named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Under-Armour Girls' High School All-America volleyball athlete Watch List) tallied a team-high 18 kills, nine blocks and seven digs, while Shollenberger accounted for 13 services points (including four aces), nine kills and five digs.
"We had a very balanced attack tonight and I agree 100-percent that Emily Kaledas is a power attacker who you want to go to to score points," stated Green Wave head coach Marian Serina. "But I really have to give props to all of our attackers because I thought everyone one of them stepped up tonight."
"Emily is such a big part of our offense, but it's the people around her that really help her numbers add up," added coach AJ Serina.
Kaledas wasted no time making her presence felt with eight kills and three blocks in the 28-26 game one victory.
With Marian holding a 24-23 lead and serving for game-point, a Fillies service error knotted the score at 24-24. Twice, Nativity served for game-point, but a Grace Boyle kill and a Green Wave service error tied the game at 26-26. Kaledas added a kill to make it 27-26 and ended the game with a block.
"No questions asked, she's a stud," said Maria Serina in regards to her senior middle hitter. "She will never settle for second best. She's a positive player on the court and a great teammate. She's someone we've really enjoyed seeing grow as a player these past four years."
Game two was filled with sloppy play, as both teams committed 12 errors apiece. With the score tied at 21-21, a Kaledas kill and a Megan Curry ace upped the Nativity lead to 23-21. Another Kaledas kill was sandwiched between two Nativity miscues and with the Green Wave holding a 24-23 lead, a Shollenberger kill put the game on ice.
"Nativity played fantastic tonight and they're continuing to get better," said Fallabel. "We beat them in the summer league and the first time we played them this season. Since then, we lost five straight games to them (two in the Pottsville Tournament and three tonight)."
However, after two close losses, Marian completely self-destructed in game three.
Shollenberger led off the game with three straight aces and eight consecutive service points to give Nativity an 8-0 advantage. With the wind taken completely out of their sails, the Fillies succumbed to a 25-10 defeat.
Marykate Sherkness led Marian with 13 kills, nine digs and three aces, while Grace Boyle (10 kills), Nikki Collevechio (15 digs) and Abby O'Donnell (24 assists) also contributed.
"Tonight was a learning experience in more ways than one," noted Fallabel. "We've been practicing horribly lately, we've been letting our emotions get the best of us and we played totally disjointed out on the court tonight. Good teams find ways to overcome those things though. Are we a good team? That's what we're going to find out."
Following a weekend tournament, Marian will take on Division 2 champion Lourdes on Wednesday evening at Martz Hall in the Schuylkill League playoffs. Should the Fillies win that match, they will meet the winner of the Pottsville/Tri-Valley match later that evening as they look to successfully defend their Schuylkill League championship.