Fillies ready for run Marian set to open PIAA Tournament against Sacred Heart Academy
The winds of change certainly has not disrupted the focus of the 2021 Marian volleyball team – nor its success.
To be sure, these Fillies are in the saddle, back to where it seems another run at an appearance in the PIAA State championship finals is not all that far off, but the quest starts today in the second round of the Class A tournament.
Maria Serina, who took over from the hard-nosed Dr. John Fallabel, in her first-year at the helm steering this ship, laughs with enthusiasm, smiles with confidence, and anyone who doubted her ability to keep this highly watched team at the top of its game, needs to rethink.
“Oh, I’m having so much fun,” is the first words out of the mouth of senior Ashlyn Klitsch as she took bites of a slice of pizza after Thursday’s workout.
Ditto for her teammate Lauren Reaman, who is enjoying the season, thus far. And like Klitsch, she too has tasted the spoils of victory. Both players helped the Fillies make a run to the state finals, before bowing in the title game last season.
Now, the duo along with Serina, hope to duplicate a deep run in the tournament, starting today at 11 a.m., at Schuylkill Valley High School, where they meet a familiar foe in Sacred Heart Academy.
When asked about the transition in taking over the program this season, all three were on the same page. Serina, who is assisted by her husband, AJ Serina, calls it positive.
“Absolutely,” the head coach said when asked about her stepping into the program. “It’s interesting (AJ) and I have noted that they are still continuing to get better… in everything they want to do. And that’s what is really nice (about the team).”
Make no mistake about it, Serina knows how to coach. A former star player at Marian, who excelled as a player during her collegiate career at Muhlenberg, guided Marian’s fiercest rivals, Nativity during her first coaching stint. Serina stepped into a rebuild situation, and immediately brought the Green Wave to the top of the heap, winning five straight district championships.
So, there was never a doubt in her mindset that the hill was too steep to climb here at her alma mater. Who says you can’t go home?
And it has rubbed off on the team, with Klitsch calling it a “very positive adjustment.”
Klitsch said the sky is the limit.
“It’s been pretty amazing, and we are so excited that we’re playing,” she said. “I believed in my teammates, and I had all the confidence in the world that we would (be successful).”
Reaman, too, is super excited, and her goal was to improve this summer, after helping the team during the 2020 COVID-19 season.
“I’m very happy as a team, from where we came from” Reaman said, who is looking forward to going to college to become a mechanical engineer, hopefully at Bucknell.
Both Reaman and Klitsch are aware of today’s opponent.
The Fillies, who drew an opening round bye in the tournament and have posted an impressive 18-2 record, now go up against the District 12 champions who enter the game with a 12-7 record. However, don’t be fooled by that number; this team has played some larger schools. In addition, Scared Heart and Marian know each other very well, after meeting last season and battling through five full sets, before the Fillies won out to advance to the state finals.
“We need to push our speed, which we are capable of,” Reaman said about the game plan for today. “I know they’re good, but we have a certain aspect that we have as a team, and you can’t replicate that, (but) we have a lot of confidence.”
Klitsch called it “super fun” with Serina.
“I have all the confidence in the world,” Klitsch noted. “I believe in my teammates and I expected us to go this far. The new coaches helped us grow. After I saw what they were able to bring to us, I even had more confidence.”
Serina points to the team’s ability to get better.
“Their work ethic and ability to grind away,” is the way the coach sees things about the club. “They are extremely coachable; they want to learn! I go back to our defense, our ability to distribute the ball, it’s our strong point. If we control what we can do on our side, we are going to have a great morning.”
To which AJ Serina added: “They’re coachable.”