WILKES-BARRE — Holy Redeemer seniors, arms around each other, posed with their district gold medals securely in place.
Jubilation filled the air in celebrating the school’s ninth straight girls’ volleyball championship. Yet, in the back of their minds knowing that business still lies ahead.
Lauren Slavoski dominated Wyoming Area with a match-high 14 kills as Redeemer needed just 55 minutes to capture the District 2 Class 2A championship with a 3-0 victory Thursday night at Wilkes University’s Marts Center.
Set scores 25-13, 25-12 and 25-8.
The victory vaults Redeemer to the PIAA Class 2A state bracket where play begins Tuesday. The Royals face off with District 4 champ Wellsboro in the first round. It’s anticipated the match will be at North Pocono as part of a double-header with Delaware Valley, which won the 3A title Wednesday night.
But that’s five days away. For Redeemer, it’s a little time to bask in the glory of its ninth consecutive title and its 186th straight win over District 2 competition.
“This means so much to me,” Slavoski said. “I need to go to all the freshmen and sophomores and tell them to carry on this legacy. This program means so much to me. And I think we are starting to peak at the right time. I am so proud of everyone. Coming off a nice win over North Pocono on Tuesday, we were feeling like we had this. We were pretty confident. We’ve all been in big games before so there weren’t really any pre-game jitters.”
The Royals were all business against the upset-minded Warriors, which beat top-seed Dunmore to reach the championship.
Redeemer, which just beat Wyoming Area on the last day of the regular season, took control early in the first set after five straight serve points from Kassie Schinski gave the team an early 10-4 lead.
“You are always worried about the girls coming in with a lack of intensity because we did just beat them last week,” Redeemer head coach Jack Kablick said. “It’s always exciting to win a title because it’s always different faces. It changes every year, and you work so hard to get here.”
Wyoming Area couldn’t find its footing offensively against the fifth-ranked 2A team in the state.
The Warriors used a 4-1 run late in the second set to get the score a little closer toward the end.
The team’s biggest nemesis on the night was passing and handling Redeemer’s jump-serves and floaters that dove to the ground after clearing the net.
“Our girls were just excited to have an opportunity to play in a match like this,” Wyoming Area head coach Nick Diaco said. “We knew what we were up against, but we played our hearts out and left everything on the court. The girls walked around the school telling everyone about this, and the school sent out an automated message to all the houses. We wanted a good crowd here, and we got it.”
Redeemer really controlled the final two sets.
Five service points by Olivia Mennig and Slavoski’s monster spikes gave the Royals an early cushion, 8-1, in the second and Ashley Andrejko pushed it to a 15-4 lead with a mid-set run. Slavoski, Amanda Curcio and Brynn Kukosky combined for 10 kills in the stanza; one Redeemer needed just 15 minutes to complete, 25-12.
“This is my first district title game, so I was a little nervous,” Kukosky said. “Wearing this gold medal, I feel like I am part of something big. I just love it. My teammates always pushed me to be here and to work hard every day. I owe so much to them and our coaches.”
Redeemer didn’t waste much time in the third.
An 8-0 run on Slavoski’s serve gave the Royals a 14-4 edge, and seven service points by setter Courtney Kijek all but ended the match.
“We are starting to peak,” Kijek said. “We are still going to push ourselves really hard. If we keep going hard, and keep pushing each other, I believe that we have a chance to win it all.”
Defensively, the Royals were suffocating. One match after allowing just four kills to North Pocono, Redeemer allowed just six to Wyoming Area – three of those by Jess Sorick.
That’s a credit to how Redeemer performed behind the back line, despite 14 service errors.
“We still have to work on the ball control and the serving,” Slavoski said. “We also have to pick up tendencies a little quicker. I think we are coming together so well. I’m excited to see what happens in states.”
In addition to Slavoski’s 14 kills, Curcio and Kukosky combined for 15 spikes and Kijek ended with 30 assists.
Nicole Wright had two kills for WA, and setter Rachael Solano had five assists.
Holy Redeemer 3, Wyoming Area 0
WA `13`12`8 – 0
HR `25`25`25 – 3
Wyoming Area Leaders: Jess Sorick 3 kills; Nicole Wright 2 kills; Rachael Solano 5 assists.
Holy Redeemer Leaders: Nicole Slavoski 14 kills, 14 points, 1 dig; Amanda Curcio 8 kills; Brynn Kukosky 7 kills, 1 block, 2 digs; Courtney Kijek 30 assists, 9 points, 4 digs; Olivia Mennig 10 points, 6 digs.