The Marian Fillies volleyball squad knew it had to play better coming into the District 11 semifinal game against Nativity last night.
The Fillies lost a battle of the unbeatens last Wednesday night, losing in the semis of the Schuylkill League Championships against Pottsville in three games. The Marian loss was all about errors, especially from the service line and this time around if the Fillies lost they would not get a chance to redeem themselves.
Fortunately for the Fillies, they got back to playing winning volleyball, dominating the Green Wave in three games, winning 25-11, 25-17, and 25-19.
It was evident from the get go that Marian did not want to go home early and attacked Nativity every chance they got.
Once again it was Marian's front line power that secured the victory with MaryKate Sherkness (17 kills), Abby Stankiewitch (5 kills), and Grace Boyle (7 kills) consistently pounding the ball into the Nativity zone. The Green Wave just simply didn't have an answer for the Fillies' power.
"We knew we had to keep our options open and look for open spots on the court," said Sherkness. "Every year is always a tough year, no matter who you play in districts. We came in thinking it was just another team, just another game, and we were ready to play together through every game, every point."
Marian coach John Fallabel stressed the fact that for his team to continue to be successful they must remain balanced. Sherkness is no doubt their top weapon, but they cannot expect her to come up with every kill, especially against stronger opponents.
"We know that MaryKate is our bread and butter, but we have to stay balanced," said Fallabel. "When Grace gets hot were a tough team to beat and Abby has been coming along as well and played well tonight. We had 38 kills, 17 of them came from MaryKate and 16 of them came from our other players. That's the kind-of balance we need moving forward."
The Fillies were challenged a bit in the second and third, but Nativity could never take advantage of their momentum.
An 18-11 Fillies advantage in the second game quickly disappeared as Nativity closed within two, 18-16. The Green Wave's surge was mostly due to Megan Curry (12 kills). Curry had two kills and a block in that stretch and throughout the night was the only consistent offense for Nativity.
Marian would then answer back, scoring five straight points en-route to a 25-17 game two win.
In the third game Nativity hung around for much of the game and actually tied the set up at 11-11. However, Marian's big three of Sherkness, Boyle, and Stankiewitch banded together and grinded out the game outlasting the Green Wave for a 25-19 win and a three games to none match victory.
"We need to come back here on Saturday and play like we did the last two times we beat Nativity," said Fallabel. "We were more consistent across the board tonight and we came out and played some really good volleyball. We'll see what kind-of team we're going to play like, but I think the girls understand what it's going to take to keep advancing."
Marian's super sophomore Abby O'Donnell kept her stellar season going, tallying 33 assists on the night.
Marian will now face Tri-Valley at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Martz Hall in Pottsville for the District 11 Class A Championship.