WILKES-BARRE — Nicole Wright sensed the tense moments.
The Wyoming Area senior captain knew she had to do something to help her team avoid a road upset that surely would have turned some heads.
Luckily for the Warriors, those pressure-packed situations didn’t get to the 5-foot-7 hitter.
Wright used two set-changing swings to end the third, and put together an amazing fourth-set effort Wyoming Area mightily needed. A 5-0 run on her serve rallied the Warriors out of a 17-11 hole, and her kill down the line clinched the match, 3-1, over a gritty GAR squad in Wyoming Valley Conference volleyball play Monday.
Match scores 25-14, 19-25, 25-22 and 25-23.
“As a captain, you have to understand your role,” Wright said. “You have to step up when times get tough. I just wanted to keep my confidence up. The second set, I think we relaxed too much and it hurt us. We have to just keep our focus for the entire match.”
The Warriors controlled the first set, racking on six aces as the Grenadiers struggled with the serve-receive pass from the back row.
That’s the last time anyone wearing green was able to take an easy breath. GAR, rallied by senior setter Banessa Flores and attackers Marie Skrepenak and Erin Scafella, took its best shot for the next 90 minutes.
“We have a young team that fights hard and digs deep right until the end,” GAR head coach Hattie Caruso said. “We came back strong after that first set. We told the girls to just dig deep, play your game and play the best that you can. They have a lot of heart and love the game.”
Flores (30 assists) was all over the floor, and never allowed GAR to get far away from its offensive principles.
Scafella was on fire behind the service line. She led a seven-point run to give the Grenadiers an 11-4 lead in the second set, and finished it off by lofting a beautiful assist from Flores to the back-corner where no Warrior was standing.
All of a sudden, what looked like a three-set Wyoming Area sweep was quickly turning into an early-season scare.
“We were strong and confident in that first game, but we just lost our focus in that second set,” Wyoming Area head coach Nick Diaco said. “We were too flat-footed, and we kind of got deflated. If there was a league dark horse, that’s Nicole Wright. She always steps up for us – serve-wise, hitting-wise and passing-wise. We are lucky to have her.”
Another large run on Scafella’s serve dug GAR out of a 14-9 hole in the third, and eventually into a 21-19 lead late. That’s when Wright stepped up, killing back-to-back shots, and 2014 all-league selection Jess Sorick finished it off with consecutive spikes in the middle of the court for the three-point (25-22) victory.
“This game really showed us that we are far away from where we want to be,” Diaco said. “I hope and know that our girls are going to see that. I know they will work twice as hard when we get back to practice. We do have a target on our back because we have a lot of experience back. We always have to stay on our toes because teams are going to be ready to play us.”
GAR took control of the final stanza early, up 17-11 behind a combined six kills from Scafella and Khira Cook. Again, Wright asserted herself – scoring five straight points behind the service line. Combined with a big run on Sorick’s serve, Wyoming Area strung together an 11-2 spurt to take a 21-19 lead.
The Grenadiers had one last gasp, tying the set at 23, but Wright’s fourth kill — combined with an attack error — ended the match.
“I think you benefit from the closer matches because it shows what kind of will that your team has,” Wright said. “I think it shows how much hustle and determination you have when the match is close.”
Wyoming Area had 22 aces, a combined 15 from Wright and Megan Wysocki. Sorick finished with a game-high 10 kills, while senior setter Rachael Solano had 21 assists.
Scafella and Marie Skrepenak combined for 20 kills.
Pittston Area 3, MMI Prep 0
Pittston Area won all three matches 25-21, 25-11 and 28-26 as they defeated MMI Prep.
Emily O’Brien had 22 digs, 20 service points and three aces while Anna McDermott had 28 digs, 12 service points and nine kills.
The Preppers were led by Desiree Dinko who had four kills, six digs, nine service points and three aces.
Nanticoke 3, Tunkhannock 0
Jenna Lapowski had 23 assists, three blocks, a single dig and a kill, Abby Zaykoski finished with six kills, four digs, three aces and a block and Kasey Radginski added 15 kills as Nanticoke defeated Tunkhannock. Match scores were, 25-16, 25-20 and 25-18.
The Tigers were led by Amanda Hardy, who had 14 kills.
Crestwood 3, Coughlin 0
Ally Olszyk provided 13 service points, nine assists and six kills, Sydney Kellar contributed 13 service points and three kills and Maria Ellis added 12 service points as Crestwood swept all three matches from Coughlin. Match scores were as follows: 25-7, 25-11 and 25-18.
Aubrey Wynn had three kills and Mykayla had three assists for the Crusaders.
W `25`19`25`25 – 3
G `14`25`22`23 – 1
Wyoming Area leaders: Nicole Wright 4 kills, 8 aces; Megan Wysocki 3 kills, 7 aces; Jess Sorick 10 kills, 3 aces.
GAR leaders: Marie Skrepenak 11 kills, 1 ace; Erin Scafella 9 kills, 5 aces; Banessa Flores 30 assists, 2 kills, 1 ace.
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @tlsports.