Nativity rallies past Marian
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Marian's Emily Pilla (left) and Lauren Nietz (in blue) both go to hit the ball as teammate Nikki Collevechio looks on from behind.
POTTSVILLE - The atmosphere at Martz Hall Tuesday night rivaled that of a girls postseason basketball game between Marian and Nativity. Anybody who knows anything about Schuylkill League athletics knows that whenever those two teams get together at Martz Hall the crowds are amped and the air is electric.
The same could be said last night about the Fillies and Green Wave's District 11 Class A semifinal volleyball match that saw many ups and downs for both squads. However, when the dust settled, it was Nativity that came out on top, storming back from a two-set deficit defeating Marian 3-2 (21-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-19, 21-19).
It didn't look good for Nativity in the first two sets. The sets were close, but it looked like the Fillies were poised to move on.
In the first set, play was back and forth like it was all evening with the key moment coming when the score was all knotted up at 20-20. Marian only let the Green Wave score one more time in the set after that and Emily Pilla brought home game one with an ace for the Fillies.
The second set was much of the same with Marian finishing off Nativity at the end once again 25-23.
"We just weren't relaxed in the first two games," said Nativity assistant coach A.J. Serina. "I think we were playing very tight and our passing just looked off."
Whatever problems the Green Wave had in the first two sets they certainly didn't have in the next three.
Marian stayed close to Nativity in the third for the first nine points, but the Green Wave pulled away jumping out to a 17-9 lead and 25-15 game three win.
In the fourth set, Marian let the lead get away from it.
Things looked good for the Fillies when they were up 17-13 late in the set, but the play from Nativity's Emily Kaledas and Elizabeth Shollenberger proved to be too much for the Fillies to handle.
Especially, the dynamic play from Shollenberger who was striking the ball well all night for the Green Wave.
"She was clutch for us tonight," said Serina. "She carried us in games three, four, and five and found her line shot in those sets. We were having some connection problem in the middle, so it was good she was hitting the ball so well."
The fifth set was just simply a battle between the Fillies and Green Wave. Shollenberger finished of Marian with an ace, winning the fifth set 21-19 for Nativity and the overall match 3-2.
Nativity will now move on to the District 11 Class A Championship and try to win its fifth straight title against Tri-Valley Thursday night.
Although the Fillies aren't moving on in the post-season, Marian Head Coach John Fallabel made it clear that the play of Johanna Butala and Mary Kate Sherkness cannot go unnoticed.
"This is Johanna Butala's team," said Fallabel. "She has sacrificed so much for this program since she was a freshman and she took this team as far as she could. Mary Kate is just a great player. She had 560 kills this year, crushing our previous record. One thing is for sure, my future look bright here at Marian with all the talent we have coming back."
Sherkness had 31 kills, 14 digs and five aces for the Fillies, with Grace Boyle helping out with six kills and four digs, and Abby O'Donnell getting 35 assists.