From the beginning of the contest it seemed like Imperial would be advancing to the second round.
On the strength of 11 consecutive service points from Andrea Aguirre, Imperial put away the first game quickly.
The second game was a different story as Marian jumped to a 14-1 advantage before finally claiming the 15-6 win.
"I think Marian came in cold," said Ponchione of his team's hot start and subsequent cooling off in the second game. "It's tough to travel into a hostile environment. But I thought we played flawlessly in the first game."
While it was a near perfect Tiger team in the first game and a shaky one in the second, it was a scrappy squad that closed out the final two games.
Facing an 11-4 deficit in the third game, Lindsay Lugo, who finished the night with 13 points (three aces) led Imperial back with five points to pull the score to 11-9. Marian tied the score at 12-12, before a Bowlan kill returned the ball to Imperial. Melanie Medina served for the final three points in the game for the Tigers, who took a 2-1 lead in the match.
Imperial jumped to an 8-4 lead in the fourth game and with five points from Aguirre, who finished with 17 points (seven aces), scored five points to push the lead to 13-4.
Benefiting from a Mazon kill, Medina put Imperial up 14-4, before Marian's Cameron Musgrave scored the Crusaders' final three points of the season. Mazon hammered home a kill to stop the Marian run and give herself the opportunity to end the match.
Bowlan finished with nine kills for Imperial while Lugo led both squads with 13 assists.
Next up for the Tigers (20-6) will be a trip to La Jolla where Imperial will meet Division IV's No. 2 team, Bishop's (24-5), at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"It will be a good experience," said Ponchione. "If we can go in and play them tough then I'll be happy."