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Nativity escapes with win over Marian

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    Alivia Karchner (33) of Marian hits the ball past Nativity’s Allison Clarke (5) and Kierstyn Strausser. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published October 25. 2019 12:39PM

ORWIGSBURG — One of the most intense rivalries in local high school girls volleyball is that between Marian and Nativity.

The proof was Thursday night when the two teams met in the District 11, Class 1A semifinal game, which Nativity won 3-0 in three very close sets (26-24. 25-22, 25-21).

Nativity had an 18-0 regular season with its only loss coming to Blue Mountain, a 3A school, in the Schuylkill League quarterfinals.

Marian, on the other hand, had a 9-7 regular season record.

In every set of the district playoff game, both teams had periods where they had the lead.

In the first set, the Fillies came charging out, taking a 9-1 lead. They also scored the first three points in the second set and led 21-18 late in the game.

The game was fiercely-fought on both sides.

“I don’t know if it would be a Marian-Nativity match in a district semifinal if it didn’t go that way,” Nativity head coach Jennifer Dauber said. “They came out and they were on fire.”

Alivia Karchner, a junior who was selected as an all-state player last year, was one of the reasons Marian stayed with the top seeded team in their class.

Karchner had 24 (of the team’s 39 total) kills, eight service points and eight digs.

“Twenty-four kills for a three set match, that’s a lot of kills,” Marian head coach Doc Fallabel said.

Ashlyn Klitsch, a sophomore, had 36 assists.

Fallabel was proud of his team but still disappointed with the loss.

“It’s hard to stop them when they have two all-state players.” he said. “I want to give credit to my assistant coaches and their great defensive play that they put into effect. It worked very well.”

He said the defensive plan focused on reducing the tips and pushes up front that were fatal to Marian the first time the two teams met earlier this season.

“Last time they beat us, they must have had 20 of them,” Fallabel said, regarding tips and pushes. “We did well tonight.”

“They gave everything on that other side of the court that they possibly could,” Daubert said of Marian, “And they made us work for everything that we had. They just gave a valiant effort on the Marian side of it.”

She said her team managed to win because, “We came out and it’s a whole team effort. If we don’t have our serving, if we don’t have our passing, if we don’t have our setting, we can’t do anything out on the floor.”

Another player who had sparkling statistics for Marian was senior Macie Mazalusky. She had 21 service points, nine of them in the first set, and two aces. She also had 17 digs.

Junior Tatiana Zeleniak had 13 service points and 10 digs.

In the first game, Marian wasted no time showing its determination, getting a 9-1 lead with Karchner getting three kills during the spree and Mazalusky getting eight service points.

For half of the first set, Marian led until Nativity went on a spurt which gave the Hilltoppers their first lead of the night at 15-13. Six times after that the score was tied, including at 24-24. Two forced errors gave the final two points to Nativity.

The second set was just as close, with the score tied at 22-22. Nativity scored the final three points.

Game three was tied at 19-19, but a 6-2 spurt gave the win to Nativity.

POSITIVE NEWS ... Fallabel has reason to be excited regarding the future of volleyball at Marian.“I’ve got 15 girls coming back,” he said. He has only two seniors on his entire varsity roster.

NEXT FOR NATIVITY ... Nativity will play for the Class 1A district championship on Tuesday against Mahanoy Area in a 6 p.m. game at Minersville. Third-seeded Mahanoy defeated second-seeded Salem Christian, 3-0, in the opener at Blue Mountain Thursday.

SINGING FANS ... Is singing the newest fad for the student sections? Last night at one point, the Marian student section was singing “Take Me Home Country Roads” during the volleyball game. Earlier this year, at some Panther Valley volleyball games, the students in their section sang Christmas songs.

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