Marian overwhelms Dunmore
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Marian's Emily Pilla (right) hits the ball back over the net as teammate Lauren Nietz backs her up. The Fillies defeated unbeaten Dunmore to advance in PIAA Class A Tournament action.
Marian's Marykate Sherkness waited four years to play in the PIAA state volleyball tournament.
Tuesday night, Sherkness made sure her first trip to states wasn't going to be a short one.
Behind their hard-hitting senior, the Fillies overwhelmed previously unbeaten Dunmore in the opening round of the Class A tournament, 25-8, 25-10, 25-15.
"You could just see how ready Marykate was to play tonight just by looking at her," said Marian coach John "Doc" Fallabel. "Marykate has been a great team leader all season long, but she has taken that to another level the last couple of weeks.
"For her and Nicole (Collevechio) and Sarah (Zurawa) this is their senior year. They know it's their last chance. You watch them on the bus rides, in practice, in warm-ups. You can just see their urgency. They are determined to make this season memorable."
Sherkness, who had team-high totals of 12 kills and seven digs, said she had been waiting for this match for a long time.
"We lost in the district finals the last three years. So this is my first state playoff game," Sherkness said. "Because of that, I was really motivated for tonight's match.
"For the seniors, we know that our next loss ends our high school careers and we don't want that to happen."
The District 11 champion Fillies wasted no time in flexing their muscles. Behind a five-point service run by Ashton Galasso and four-point runs by Sherkness and Emily Pilla, Marian cruised to a 25-8 first game victory.
"Marian is a lot tougher than the competition we played during the season," said Dunmore coach Sue Dempsey. "Combine that with the fact that this was our program's first-ever state tournament game and that we start three freshmen and it added up to a pretty rough start for us."
Things didn't get much better for the Bucks in game two as Marian rolled to a 25-10 win. Grace Boyle had eight service points and Galasso added five for the Marian. Meanwhile, Sherkness had four kills to lead the way at the net and Sophie Myers and Abby Stankiewitch added two kills apiece.
Game three was competitive early as the District 2 champion Bucks jumped out to a 9-8 lead. But an eight-point service run from Pilla, four of them aces, quickly turned things around. The Fillies eventually finished things off on a service ace from Zurawa.
"I thought we played fantastic," said Fallabel. "The girls played together, they were relaxed, they moved well … it was a really nice performance.
"We knew Dunmore was 20-0 coming in, but we also felt like they hadn't played the type of competition we see in the Schuylkill League. They had a couple of nice players, but they would probably be no better than a mid-level team in our league."
Marian (17-1) had nice offensive balance behind Sherkness as Boyle (six kills); Pilla (five kills); Stankiewitch (four kills, three blocks); and Myers (four kills) all contributed. Abby O'Donnell dished out 29 assists. In addition to the strong net play, Marian also had 16 aces in the match led by six from Pilla.
"It was a nice win for us," said Sherkness. "I think everyone on the team is feeling good about how we played.
"We are going to enjoy this tonight, but tomorrow we will be back on the court getting ready for Saturday."
On Saturday, the Fillies will face the winner of today's match between District 1 champ Country Day Sacred Heart and District 12 champ MaST Community Charter.