Fillies in the final: Marian defeats Bishop Carroll to advance to Class A volleyball state championship
Marian beats Bishop Carroll to advance to Class A state championship
NEWVILLE — The formula that sends Marian’s girls’ volleyball team to the PIAA Class A championship match for the second consecutive year turned out to be simple.
“My comments for tonight are short and sweet,” Marian head coach Dr. John Fallabel said. “Jasmine Mooney. Gianna Agosti. See you, guys.”
Of course, it wasn’t quite that elementary for these Fillies, who advanced to Saturday’s final match for PIAA gold by stopping District 6 runner-up Bishop Carroll 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19 in Tuesday’s semis at Big Spring High School.
Marian (23-0) will have the opportunity to complete an undefeated season, courtesy of 35 kills from senior outside hitter Mooney, who also had nine service aces and 15 digs, and a whopping 52 assists in four sets from senior setter Gianna Agosti. She hit the bleachers during a dive for a ball in the second set and came up hobbling, but played the entire match.
With their leadership, Marian will oppose District 10 champion Maplewood, a 25-17, 25-21, 25-20 victor over District 9 third-place Clarion Area in Tuesday’s other semifinal, for the PIAA Class A title at 11 a.m. Saturday at Richland High School in Johnstown.
Marian advances to its third state title match in the
past four years, but it’s the first time the Fillies will not face Greensburg Central Catholic, which did not make this year’s state tournament after beating Marian for the crown in both 2014 and 2016.
After his initial thoughts, Fallabel wasn’t quite done with his praise of Tuesday’s match, in which Marian had to battle from deficits to take both the first and third sets.
“(Libero) Toni (Galasso) had a great game with digs, 20 digs,” he said and then, noting the Bishop Carroll strategy, added, “Serve receive, what was she thinking? She was serving to her (Galasso) every time, and she had a great night. She shanked just one the whole night.”
Galasso’s night was indicative of a match in which every player in the Marian’s nine-player rotation had her moment in the sun. Every player had at least one kill, with middle hitter Carly Kosciolek adding 10. Antonina Zeleniak compiled 13 digs and was an example of the Fillies’ persistence on defense.
“If the other team gets the kill, you lose all of your points, so it was dig or die,” Mooney said about the team’s attitude after losing the second set. “So we said we have to dig or die. Nothing hits the floor. You’ve got to have passion for the next two sets.”
It was Bishop Carroll’s inability to corral Mooney’s emphatic kills that spelled doom for the Huskies (23-5).
“We couldn’t pass up number 21 (Mooney),” Bishop Carroll head coach Katie Wyland said. “We started getting her serve down toward the end and passing it up, but her swinging, we weren’t aggressive. We wanted to take her hits, but we kept backing off. She’s a very good swinger.”
Marian scored its first two points on Mooney’s kills, and the hits — 81 kill attempts in all in the match — just kept coming.
Yet Bishop Carroll held a 23-20 lead in the first set, thanks to junior outside hitter Kate Yahner’s fourth kill of the set. Kosciolek answered with a kill, handing the serve back to teammate Zeleniak. She served an ace. Two kills by Mooney and another by Kosciolek later, Marian took the 25-23 win.
Helped by five service errors in the next set, the Huskies rebounded, eventually taking a 22-15 lead despite three straight aces by Mooney earlier in the set. Marian scored five of the set’s final eight points, but Bishop Carroll won 25-20 on another kill by Yahner.
The Huskies then grabbed a 10-6 lead in the third set, but Marian got a big kill from junior defensive specialist Kate Spillman, who bounced a shot off a double block that fell to the court. That began a run of four straight points to tie the match. Then, with Marian ahead 14-13 following a Mooney kill, Marian’s Julia Hoben served three straight points, including a block to the floor and a kill by Mooney and Hoben’s own ace, for a 17-13 lead. Bishop Carroll never caught up after that.
Marian ran out to a 6-2 lead in the fourth set, but the Huskies then stayed close the entire way. Taking the serve with a 22-19 Marian lead, Zeleniak served the final three points. Mooney’s final kill came during the run, and the match ended when a Bishop Carroll kill attempt sailed long.
Yahner added six blocks for the Huskies, while Kayla Repko posted 28 assists.
“We usually play a down game. … This time, they played the whole way through,” Wyland said. “We were point for point with them the entire time, so I can’t complain about anything.”
The entire starting rotation for Bishop Carroll consists of underclassmen.
Marian’s state tournament experience ended up winning the match.
“It’s a lot of practice. It’s a lot of game-time situations,” Mooney said. “Every game is different from practice, so it prepares us for the next round.”
The final round comes Saturday morning.
“In between (last) Saturday and today, we’ve gained so much confidence in ourselves,” Galasso said of the first two PIAA Tournament rounds. “We’re ready to take on the championship.”
Marian’s Gianna Agosti (12), Emily Meier, rear, and Toni Galasso (9) celebrate their first set win over Bishop Carroll in Tuesday’s PIAA Class A state semifinal game at Big Spring High School. Marian defeated Bishop Carroll 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19...
Marian’s Carly Kosciolek hits the ball to Bishop Carroll’s Madeline Murphy during Tuesday’s PIAA Class A semifinal at Big Spring High School. Kosciolek had 10 kills in the Fillies’ 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19 victory.
Marian’s Jasmine Mooney hits the ball toward Bishop Carroll for one of her 35 kills during Tuesday’s PIAA Class A semifinal at Big Spring High School. The Fillies will face Maplewood in Saturday morning’s state championship match.
Marian’s Gianna Agosti (12) and Emily Meier (24) celebrate a point during Tuesday’s PIAA Class A state semifinal victory over Bishop Carroll at Big Spring High School.