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Fillies come up ‘aces’ against Nativity

Ace is a word that is synonymous with a playing card that is ranked as the highest in its suit, or a person who excels at a particular sport or other activity.

In volleyball, ace is used when the ball is served over the net and an opponent is unable to return the serve, thus winning the point.

On Tuesday night, in what is always a hard-fought matchup between rivals Marian and Nativity, it was the Fillies that used their multiple aces in the hole from the service line to defeat the Green Wave in a three-game sweep - 25-16, 25-16, 25-19.

From the onset, Marian established its dominance from the service line, with Lauren Reaman getting the Fillies out to a commanding 11-1 advantage. Reaman’s low-diving serve gave Nativity fits throughout the night, but it was her serving in the first set that really looked to give Marian confidence. Reaman came through with five aces during the 11-1 run.

“To get off to such a good start there serving, and getting point-after-point, that was really exciting and it gives you a lot of momentum,” said Reaman. “All night long, we were able to pick out the holes and we played with great energy. We knew what we had to do coming in here tonight, and with great support from our home crowd, we were able to get the win.”

Nativity battled back, though, in the first set - actually taking a two-point lead (14-12). The Green Wave went to their power presence in Arieanna Sherman, who came through with five kills and one block during Nativity’s surge. But as it did throughout the evening, Marian went back to the serve and rattled off a 9-0 run to take back the lead and the momentum, closing out the set by nine points.

The Fillies controlled most of the second set to put the Green Wave in a 2-0 hole. This time, it was setter Ashlyn Klitsch that made an impact from the service line, collecting seven aces.

Nativity would hang around early, trailing by three (11-8), but then Klitsch took over and helped extend the Fillies lead to double digits. The Green Wave wouldn’t get any closer than a six-point deficit the rest of the way.

Marian came through with an impressive 24 aces in the match.

“We talk a lot about keeping momentum on our side, and we talk about the ability to control our court, and the play from behind the service line is key to that,” said Marian head coach Maria Serina. “Finding areas where we believe it’s going to force them to scramble, and then from there we want to run a fast and aggressive style of offense is always one of our goals.

“Really, we want to come in and just try to be the most aggressive team that we can, and spot serve. I think we made good adjustments tonight. These girls know what to expect. We don’t have one specific game plan for one opponent; our plan is identical no matter who we play.”

Nativity did its best to try and force a fourth game to extend the match, but the Fillies finished strong down the stretch to halt any Green Wave comeback efforts.

Two big blocks from middle hitter Fatikha Tikhtova late in the third gave Marian some breathing room (23-19), and back-to-back aces by Abigail Kluck completed the three-game sweep.

SULLIVAN RETURNS … The Fillies got back a key piece to their lineup against Nativity in senior middle hitter Kelly Sullivan. Sullivan rolled her ankle in a practice right before Marian’s first match of the season. She looked good in her return, coming through with eight kills and two blocks.

LEADERS … Klitsch finished with 23 assists and nine aces. Rhiannon Brady added five kills and four aces, while Charlotte Vinson had five kills and Kluck chipped in with four kills.

PLAYOFF PICTURE … The Fillies (10-1, 9-1) have moved into the top spot in Division 4 of the Schuylkill League, and now hold the tiebreaker over Nativity in the division after defeating it twice this season. Marian is currently also the No. 1 ranked team in District 11 Class 1A.

Marian's Julia Meiss (14) and Fatikha Tikhtova (29) defend the net against Nativity. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS