COVINGTON TWP. – It started with a big block from Mike Morrison. It ended on Brendan Leahigh’s middle-of-the-court kill.
In between, it was nothing but high-octane intensity by the Holy Redeemer boys volleyball team.
The Royals led start to finish and never wavered, disposing of second-seed Western Wayne, 3-0, in the semifinals of the District 2 Class 2A playoffs at North Pocono High School.
Match scores were 25-12, 25-16 and 25-20.
Redeemer advances into Thursday’s final at Scranton High School to face North Pocono, a 3-0 winner over Coughlin in the other semi.
“Last week, I don’t think we had the right intensity against Nanticoke in the quarterfinals,” Leahigh said. “We knew that we had to bring it this week. We knew that if we didn’t come out strong today, we weren’t going to be playing for a third straight district championship. That’s our goal. We want to repeat.”
No doubt, it was a different-looking Redeemer team compared to the quarterfinal round. In that match against Nanticoke, there were a total of 15 service errors and didn’t seem to be much communication on the court.
A couple practices, a quick regrouping session and back to the same old traditional Redeemer power.
“We had three keys to the game, and we felt that if we got two of them, we would be in good shape,” Redeemer head coach Jack Kablick said. “I thought we did a great job. I thought our hitters were great just pounding away. We knew our finesse zones, and knew what the kill zones were.”
The third-seeded Royals looked sharp – led by seniors Jeremy Myslowski and Leahigh.
The duo combined for 25 kills, and more importantly, were the constant voices on the court.
It showed just minutes into the match.
Redeemer jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the opening set, and used a mini, 8-3 run in the middle of the second to build a 2-0 advantage.
“It really comes down to spreading the ball around to four and five good hitters,” Myslowski said. “Coming out strong is so important in this game. You have to start off strong, and you have to finish off strong.”
Western Wayne, undefeated in the Lackawanna League, appeared to have semifinal jitters.
The Wildcats had 13 service errors, coupled with 21 attack miscues.
Add it up, and that’s 34 points handed on the scoreboard.
Redeemer also did a remarkable job of holding senior standout Michael Trygar to just six kills. Trygar was coming off a quarterfinal matchup where he racked up more than 20 spikes in a 3-1 win over Dallas.
“We knew Mike Trygar was their man, and I thought Mike Morrison did a great job of shutting him down,” Kablick said. “We held him under 10 kills, which is a great accomplishment.”
Western Wayne held tough in the third set until an early, 6-2 run – power by a block from Mike Prociak and Leahigh’s back-row kill on what was a free ball — gave Redeemer a four-point edge, 10-6.
“I think all of our hard work, our intensity, in practice showed during the match today,” Leahigh said. “It paid off. We got them in three.”
Leahigh had a game-high 13 kills, while Myslowski added 12 and 14 assists. Leahigh had a game-high eight digs, while Kenny Rexer had 10 service points.
Holy Redeemer Leaders: Jeremy Myslowski, 12 kills, 14 assists, 4 blocks; Brendan Leahigh, 13 kills, 8 digs; Mike Morrison, 8 kills, 6 blocks.
Western Wayne Leaders: Patrick Miller, 8 kills; Michael Trygar, 6 kills; Sam Hoch, 18 assists.