Fillies capture showdown
bob ford/times news Marian's Grace Boyle (21) follows through after spiking the ball through the attempted block of Nativity's Rachel Wood.
Number one vs. number two.
When Marian met Nativity on Thursday night, not only was it a rivalry renewed, it was also a contest between the top two teams in the District 11 Class A volleyball rankings, both of which have been on a roll lately.
Marian entered the contest on a seven-match win streak while Nativity had won its last eight since a loss to the Fillies to begin the Schuylkill League season.
In the end, the Fillies found soft spots in Nativity's defense en route to a 25-13, 18-25, 25-13, 25-14 triumph over the Green Wave.
In a game of momentum swings, Marian took control after dropping the second set and never looked back.
"Volleyball's all momentum," Marian coach John Fallabel said. "Once they (Nativity) caught fire in that second game, my assistant coaches wanted me to take a timeout. I said, 'No, let them go through this.' I like for them to go through this.
"They were confused; they were playing bad; they were chasing the ball. They suffered for it. But they came back and they learned from it."
The Fillies' resolve is something that Fallabel knew his squad had in them.
"All I asked them to do the rest of the night is play like they did in that first set," he said. "Chase every ball, fire after everything and do your job. And that's exactly what they did."
Marian (10-1, 9-0)relied on its service game to keep Nativity on its heels, going on several prolonged runs to take control of the contest.
"It's the only time of the game when everybody stands still and lets you hit the ball with no one bothering you," Fallabel said. "It's so basic. It's a free shot at the other team, and some of the girls have gotten really good at a couple of jump-float serves."
Marian's Emily Pilla helped ice the game in the third set, serving the first six points to give the Fillies an early 6-0 advantage.
"If we can get Emily up first (to serve), that's the key," Fallabel said of his junior. "Once she gets up there, that can be a difference of five or six points, and that's tough for the other team to overcome."
Nativity (8-2, 7-2) suffered a huge loss before the match even started when freshman Noelle Steele suffered a knee injury during the junior varsity match, won 2-0 by Marian. While Steele was able to walk with a heavily bandaged knee, she could not play in the varsity match.
"In all of our games, our rotations were completely different," Nativity head coach Jennifer Daubert said. "I give all of our girls credit because I thought they showed a lot of heart and they showed a lot of poise. Especially since we were asking people to step up in positions that they wouldn't normally be and also to play some positions they wouldn't be in.
"But that's a credit to Marian as well because they're so good on their service and return game. They run their defense so well and they're able to get a lot of good passes and run a really quick offense."
Fallabel was equally complementary of his counterpart and knows his squad will benefit from facing such a high-level of competition during the regular season.
"We've played some games (this season) where we were able to get by on our service game alone," the coach said. "But when you play a game like this; defense, blocking, everything comes into play.
"This was a good match that was played tough with a lot of good net play. They have some younger players that need time to develop, but they're going to be good players down the line."
Grace Boyle led the Fillies with 14 kills and Abby Stankiewitch added 11 kills.