Marian tops Dawgs


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POTTSVILLE - Marykate Sherkness' list of volleyball accomplishments at Marian is long and impressive.

On November 3, the Fillies' senior added another: District 11 Class A champ.

Sherkness led a dominating offensive attack with 27 kills and 13 digs as Marian won its first district crown since 2006 with a 25-21, 15-25, 25-17, 25-17 victory over Tri-Valley at Martz Hall.

The victory - the 200th of head coach John Fallabel's career - advanced the Fillies (16-1) to the PIAA Class A playoffs, where they were scheduled to play District 2 champion Dunmore November 6 at Tamaqua Area Middle School.

"Not being able to go to states was always hard. It was something that we looked forward to, and didn't quite make it every year," Sherkness said. "This year, we knew what we had to do, we knew that we had to get the job done.

"We worked together and we were a family. It mimicked on the court. We played together as a team."

Sherkness took charge in a critical third set after the Schuylkill League champion Dawgs (19-3) evened the match by winning the second set.

Sherkness had nine kills in the set, including three in a set-opening 6-2 run and three more later in the frame. She added six more kills in the final set to help Marian close out the victory.

"Sure I played well, but I couldn't do it without the other players on the court," Sherkness said. "No matter what, it's a team sport, not an individual sport, and I'm so proud to say I'm on this team."

Sherkness wasn't the only star for Marian.

Sophomore setter Abby O'Donnell compiled a career-high 54 assists, junior hitter Grace Boyle notched 11 kills and freshman middle hitter Abby Stankiewitch had 10 kills.

Stankiewitch had seven of her kills in the final two sets, including three in an 11-2, match-closing run. Trailing 15-14, Marian won six straight points on kills, two each by Stankiewitch, Boyle and Emily Pilla, to take control.

"When I jump straight, I can hit much better," Stankiewitch said. "These girls have really helped me get better. We push so hard. I'm so happy tonight.

"I get kind of nervous at the beginning, but when I swing down and get it, I'm so happy and proud of myself."

Pilla's serving was the key to Marian's third-set victory, as she served six straight points to give the Fillies a 20-8 lead.

Serving has been Marian's weakness throughout the postseason. That continued November 3, as the Fillies committed 14 service errors, including seven in the second set.

Pilla's run, however, featured five of her seven aces. The run broke Tri-Valley's back, and the Dawgs never recovered.

"I knew I had to keep my focus and know that I can do it, and not get down on myself if I mess up," Pilla said. "We do talk about it a lot. Serving is one of the key points in the game."

As the match ended, Marian's fan section held up cardboard cutouts of the No. 200 in honor of Fallabel's coaching milestone.

Fallabel complimented Tri-Valley, which had big efforts from seniors Taylor Troutman (18 kills) and Tara Nahodil (12 kills, three blocks).

Over the past two seasons, Troutman and Nahodil have helped Tri-Valley to a 38-6 record, two Schuylkill League titles and a pair of District 11 Class A silver medals.

"This is a big win for us. We're finally back in the states," Fallabel said.

"(Tri-Valley) played a great game. Troutman, Nahodil, they're great kids, great competitors. They're a great team to play against. It's sad that someone has to lose. I feel bad for their kids."

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