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 to ad­vance to Satur­day’s PIAA state cham­pi­onship game against Maple­wood at Rich­land High School in John­stown.

Andy maTsko / sTaff phoTographer

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.

Andy maTsko / sTaff phoTographer

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.

Andy maTsko / sTaff phoTographer

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.

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