LAKE ARIEL – It doesn’t need to look pretty. Doesn’t need to look glorious or glamorous, either.
Once you reach the postseason, it’s pretty simple. Win. No matter what it looks like.
That’s what Holy Redeemer did.
The Royals fought off a gritty, gutsy Nanticoke squad playing without its seniors en route to a 3-0 victory in the opening round of the District 2 Class 2A boys volleyball playoffs at Western Wayne.
Redeemer advances to next week’s semifinals to face off with Western Wayne, a winner over Dallas in another quarterfinal.
It wasn’t pretty. Redeemer coach Jack Kablick will admit that.
The Royals had 15 service errors and numerous attack miscues.
“The first two games, it looked like it was the first week of our season,” the coach said. “I think you saw that senior leadership take over, and the third game, it was more like Redeemer volleyball. We are happy with the way we ended, and that’s important. It’s usually how you end, not how you start. We have some things to work on in practice, and we need to address our communication because it lacked. But that’s something you can fix.”
Just seven days ago, the Royals dominated every aspect in an impressive Wyoming Valley Conference victory in the Trojans’ home gym with seniors John Pietrzyk and Scott Morganti in the lineup. Those two missed yesterday’s game because of a class trip.
On Wednesday, Debbie Gavin’s squad – a mixture of varsity and junior varsity players – scrapped and clawed and put a serious scare into the third-seeded Royals for two sets.
“It’s tough because we didn’t have our starting lineup, and we only had three days of practice to prepare for them,” Gavin said. “It was a nice mix of kids who really put it together. I think our kids played hard. We knew how good Redeemer was. The best part is all these kids will be back next season. It’s a good building block.”
Redeemer needed a six-point run on Jeremy Myslowski’s serve to create breathing room at 15-8 in the first set.
It was two mini-runs on Vito Aiello’s serve that dug the Royals out of an early 5-1 hole in the second. The latter of the two runs, a 5-0 spurt, built a 22-16 lead before a kill by Mike Morrison and a Nanticoke attack error ended the set 25-18.
The third belonged to Redeemer as the Royals jumped out to a 10-4 lead and never looked back in a 25-10 victory.
“Nanticoke played their hearts out, and they flew around the court,” Kablick said. “One person I was really pleased with was Vito. He’s a senior and didn’t play his last three years. He’s like a freshman because he’s just learning the game. But I thought he was big. His service runs were important, especially under close conditions.”
Myslowski had a big game for Redeemer, killing a game-high 10 balls and finishing with six aces. Morrison and Brendan Leahigh each had seven kills, while Mike Gatusky picked up four of his seven kills in the opening stanza.
Sophomore Robert Burke had four kills to pace Nanticoke.
HOLY REDEEMER 3, NANTICOKE 0
NANTICOKE` 14` 18` 10
HOLY REDEEMER` 25` 25` 25
NAN: Robert Burke, 4 kills; Jake Bevan, 3 kills.
HR: Jeremy Myslowski, 10 kills, 6 aces, 11 service points, 20 assists, 5 digs; Brendan Leahigh, 7 kills, 2 aces, 4 digs; Mike Conlon, 15 assists.