"X-factor," "game-changer,"and "momentum-changer" are a few words that describe the play of Marian's Grace Boyle last night against Tri-Valley.
Boyle made big play after big play for the Fillies (7-0, 7-0 Schuylkill League Division 4) helping them come away with a huge win over the Lady 'Dawgs (8-1, 6-1 SL Division 3) in four games 25-19, 15-25, 25-23, and 25-14.
It's no secret that the Fillies possess the most talented player in the Schuylkill League in prime time hitter MaryKate Sherkness. However, it was Boyle that came through for the Fillies when they needed the big play.
Boyle's first game-changer of the night came in the first set after three Tri-Valley errors extended the Fillies lead to 18-15. Boyle received a pass from Marian assist-machine Abby O'Donnell and laid down a thunderous strike to the right side of the Lady 'Dawgs defense, giving Marian a 19-15 lead. Tri-Valley coach Heather Drumheller called a timeout after Boyle's hit and they were never able to recover dropping the first frame.
Tri-Valley came back in the second to grab a win, mostly because of Marian errors. The fillies committed 12 errors in the period, including five in a seven-point stretch that helped Nativity gain an 18-12 advantage and take the set.
The third set turned out to be the most important stanza of the match, serving as the most competitive game of the night as well. Marian got out to a 16-13 lead after three Nikki Collevechio aces, but Tri-Valley stormed back to take a 19-16 lead. Insert Boyle once again. A Boyle kill brought the Fillies back within one and an even more impressive dig attempt by Boyle, landing in the back-corner of the Tri-Valley zone knotted the set up at 23 a piece. An error on the Lady 'Dawgs end gave Marian a 24-23 lead and then Boyle finished off the third with another spike, giving Marian a 2-1 lead.
"We came out ready to go," said Boyle. "We knew this was going to be the toughest team we faced up until this point. We really practiced hard preparing for this match-up. I just knew that I had to play my part tonight and I knew I had to come up big for my team."
Boyle did just that on multiple occasions throughout the match and Marian coach John Falabell was pleased with the way Boyle came through for the Fillies.
"Grace showed at Nativity last year when we beat them at their place what kind-of player she is," said Boyle. "Grace can hit the ball as well as MaryKate (Sherkness) and she hits the ball straight down. She is really turning into a force for us."
The fourth game belonged to the Fillies from the onset. Three errors early from Tri-Valley gave Marian a 5-0 lead and they finished off the Lady 'Dawgs 25-15 to take the match-up between the Schuylkill League Division leaders. Sherkness made her presence felt at the end of the fourth coming up with three kills in the last six points, tallying 20 kills total on the night. Sherkness was nothing but solid all evening and once again showed why she is the best hitter in the Schuylkill League.
"We started out playing well and lost a little bit of momentum in that second set," said Sherkness. "We have confidence as a team though, we always know we can come back stronger the next set and that's what we did. We fought for that win in the third set and then finished strong in the fourth. It was a real nice win for us tonight."
For Marian Boyle had eight kills, Abby Stankiewitch and Emily Pilla had seven kills each, and Nikki Collevechio chipped in with 24 digs. Abby O'Donnell continued her stellar season dishing out 45 assists.