Magical season comes to an end for Marlington at state

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In a hard-fought battle on the court, the Marlington Lady Dukes concluded their volleyball season with a 3-1 loss to Mercy McAuley. The teams clashed in the Division II state semifinals match that kept fans on the edge of their seats.

The Lady Dukes started strong, claiming the first set with a 25-22 victory.

Despite initial setbacks, Coach Steph Tortola’s strategic adjustments propelled Marlington to an early 1-0 match lead. Reflecting on the match, Tortola acknowledged the resilience of her team, stating, “We made a few adjustments where we wanted to place the ball and got our server team together, and we were able to come out with a victory in the first set.”

The tides turned in the subsequent sets, with Mercy McAuley securing victories in the following three sets: 25-19, 25-18, 25-15. Despite the ultimate defeat, Coach Tortola commended her team’s dedication, emphasizing that the Lady Dukes gave their all on the court.

In the post-match reflections, Coach Tortola expressed pride in her team’s accomplishments, saying, “It’s heartbreaking to all of us today, but still, we have much to be proud of. We’ve done so much for our program, for our school, and our community, and what great support we’ve had along the way as well.”

Among the standout performers for Marlington in the match were junior Layne Graffice, leading with nine kills, followed by Giana Bogunovich with eight kills and Chelsea Evanich with seven. Additional contributions came from Danica Sarchione, Emily Gainer, and Janelle Swisher, each recording four kills. Hilliard recorded 16 digs and Graffice recorded 10.

As the season concludes, Marlington bids farewell to five graduating seniors.

Seniors Janelle Swisher and Chelsea Evanich shared their sentiments on their volleyball journey.

An emotional Swisher, stated, “We’ve just been playing together since like, third or fourth grade. Being able to make it here and play together since being that young is just an incredible feeling.”

Evanich echoed the sentiment, reflecting on the memorable moments of the season and expressing gratitude for the experience.

Looking ahead, the Marlington juniors, including Layne Graffice and Jacsyn Hilliard, acknowledged the challenge of filling the shoes of departing seniors. Graffice affirmed, “We’re gonna have to fill some pretty big shoes and we know what we have to do.”

Hilliard expressed optimism, stating, “I think we’re definitely gonna continue growing. It was one of the first things we said in the locker room.”

Coach Tortola shared her belief in the potential of the team for the upcoming season, saying, “I believe next year’s team has the chance to be great.”

With lessons learned and a resilient spirit, the Marlington Lady Dukes look to the future with determination and optimism.