MINERSVILLE - Marian head girls volleyball coach John "Doc" Fallabel wore a smile a mile long.
His team just defeated Nativity in four games by scores of 25-23, 25-14, 19-25, 25-12 to repeat as District 11 Class A Champions at Minersville High School.
"This is so much fun," he said. "I've been excited all day I've had butterflies in my stomach. The girls were cheering on the bus before we even got going."
It was the third time this season that the Fillies defeated the Green Wave in four games. And after a close first game, The Fillies took control, eased off a bit to lose the third and then regained their form to finish it off in the fourth.
The only difference between this one than the other two is that Nativity (13-4) won the third game. In the other two meetings, they won the second contest.
"The way we run this program, I knew we had something special here," Fallabel said. "We have a great group of seniors and when this junior class walked into the school and we put them together, then Abby Stankiewitch and a great group of sophomores hopped on board and everything just meshed.
"They're all great kids, fun to be around, we have great leaders and that's why we are 20-2. And to beat one of the best teams in the state (Nativity) three times, it's a shame we only get one team out to states from this district."
In the first game, both teams saw the game tied up 17 times. A serving error and a carry by the Green Wave with the score tied at 23-23 gave Marian the win.
Grace Boyle took charge with five kills in the second game and it was one from her and Emily Pilla that ended it for a 11-point triumph.
"This was the Emily Pilla that I know is there," Fallabel said. "She's a dominant player. This is the best game she's played of her career.
"Back row attacks, front row attacks. She was on fire."
In the third game, Nativity rode some kills by Emily Field to jump out to a 10-point lead (17-7). The Fillies staged a brief comeback with three kills from sophomore Abby Stankiewitch to trim the gap to 22-13 and got as close to 24-19 before Nativity scored game point.
A five-point service run by Maureen Kloap gave the Fillies a 9-4 lead in the fourth and deciding game.
A kill by Emily Pilla started a string of points to help the Fillies. Pilla and Lauren Nietz each served aces to close things out as Marian scored seven of the final eight points.
"In the fourth game, I made a rotation change to get some different blocking up against Fields and it worked."
Boyle finished the night with 14 kills and 10 digs, while Stankiewitch had 10 kills, Emily Pilla had eight kills, 13 digs and two blocks and Lauren Neitz chipped in with three service aces and 24 digs.
"I just wanted to have fun," Emily Pilla said afterwards. "I've worked all season for this and we just wanted to give it all we had."
The Fillies have now won nine district championships since 1999 and head into the PIAA State Volleyball Championships on Tuesday.
Marian faces District 2 champ Dunmore, the same team it faced in last year's opening round and won by three games. The game is set for North Pocono High School at 7 p.m.