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Canton plays in PIAA Class A girls volleyball quarterfinals at Marian Catholic today

Ever since falling in the state quarterfinals to Berlin Brothers Valley, 3-0 (25-7, 25-20, 25-19), a season ago, the returning core of the Canton volleyball team has been thinking about getting back to the quarterfinals, and advancing past said stage.

The Warriors get their chance, as they make the long trek to Marian Catholic High School in Tamaqua today to play the District 11 champions at 2 p.m.

It is do-or-die for a group of eight Warrior seniors that have done a lot of winning in their careers. They captured their fourth straight district title last Thursday, beating Galeton, 3-0. They come in hot, too, having dominated Blue Ridge in a three set sweep on Tuesday in the first round.

Annie Gaiotti continued her outstanding senior season and was dominant on the offensive end, having double-digit kills and hitting well over .500 on the evening. Senior setter Carmya Martell remains a steady force running the Warrior offense, and senior libero Jillian Shay is a four-year starter who has seen it all. Middle hitters Gracie Covert and Jillaney Hartford are playing their best volleyball of their careers so far, and the senior and sophomore, respectively, will be crucial today.

Junior Rachel Martin and sophomore Aislyn Williams have also emerged as offensive and blocking threats for the Warriors.

Canton coach Shelia Wesneski is in her 25th year at the helm and has made it past this round once — advancing to the state final in 2002. She has emerged as one of the state’s premier coaches and she will face another one in Marian Catholic’s John Fallabel. The longtime coach has 341 wins and only one losing season.

Marian Catholic is a perennial power in Class A, and it played for a state title in 2017 falling to Maplewood, 3-0. This is a tall and experienced team led by returning PVCA all-state selection Alivia Karchner. The senior hitter can impact matches in a variety of ways and is a great all around player.

She has 35 kills in their last two matches. The Fillies have won five straight and only have three losses on the season. Senior Rebecca Dzuranin and fellow 12th grader Jamison Wheeler are the other top offensive options for the Fillies. Junior setter Ashlyn Kitsch runs the Marian Catholic offense. The back line is anchored by senior libero Tatiana Zeleniak and junior defensive specialist Elizabeth Snerr.

The winner will advance to play Sacred Heart Academy, the champion out of District 1, on Tuesday at a location and time to be announced.

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