They talk about Biz Eaton in almost reverent tones around Holy Redeemer, as if a big bulk of the credit for this latest undefeated season should go to the girl who barely gets noticed.
‚??Amazing,‚?Ě is the way Redeemer‚??s star hitter Sarah Warnagiris described Eaton.
‚??She‚??s great,‚?Ě Royals front-row phenom Alyssa Platko said of her less-recognized teammate.
Oh, everyone notices Warnagiris and Platko and senior Nicole Slavoski.
They‚??re the players always leaping above the net to pound home points with spirited spikes and crushing blocks that led Redeemer into Saturday‚??s state quarterfinal match against either Delone Catholic or Masterman.
But they all agree their real leader is the one who rarely receives recognition.
That‚??s because Eaton is the team‚??s setter, probably the most unglamorous position on a volleyball court. But also the most important.
‚??She‚??s really invaluable to the team,‚?Ě Warnagiris says of Eaton. ‚??She‚??s like our quarterback.‚?Ě
More like a blocker, Holy Redeemer coach Jack Kablick says.
‚??Like an offensive lineman,‚?Ě Kablick said. ‚??Those guys open the big holes and the running back gets all the credit. It‚??s a sport where she (Eaton) touches the ball 80 percent of the time and gets none of the credit.‚?Ě
Not that the daughter of Everal and Diane Eaton of West Wyoming wants much praise.
‚??I‚??d rather see the team victory than an individual victory,‚?Ě Eaton, a senior, said.
But having Eaton in the middle of it all has been something for the Royals to celebrate.
It‚??s more than the steady array of digs, assists and solid serves that made Eaton‚??s career sparkle.
It‚??s the way Eaton energizes her teammates with her hustle ‚?? and her hollering ‚?? that make her invaluable to Holy Redeemer‚??s success.
‚??Biz always helps get the team psyched,‚?Ě Platko said. ‚??She‚??s very vocal on the court. She talks a lot.‚?Ě
She also comes through a lot.
During Holy Redeemer‚??s District 2 semifinal victory over North Pocono, Eaton had 29 assists to help the Royals sweep the match. She followed that up with 29 assists and eight digs in Redeemer‚??s district title sweep of Nanticoke. And she registered 32 assists, a kill and an ace in Redeemer‚??s PIAA opener Tuesday.
It‚??s been like that all season for Eaton.
‚??During the DelVal game, which was a big game for us, we were down for a little while,‚?Ě Warnagiris said. ‚??Biz came up with this great dig ‚?Ľ‚?Ě
And her hustle quickly became contagious among the Royals.
‚??Especially when she does a setter‚??s dump and gets a kill, we all get really excited for that,‚?Ě Platko said. ‚??Biz always has a great game. Of course, not every set is going to be perfect. But she always seems to make it as if it is going to be perfect.
‚??She knows who to set and where to set it.‚?Ě
Eaton blushes a bit about such high praise.
‚??I feel like my hitters make me look a lot better than I am,‚?Ě Eaton said.
But they will argue it‚??s Eaton‚??s uncanny knack for setting that sets up Holy Redeemer‚??s success.
‚??She‚??s a great offensive and defensive player,‚?Ě Warnagiris said. ‚??She has a wicked front serve I wish that one of us can continue. I don‚??t even know what we‚??re going to do next year without her.‚?Ě
It wasn‚??t always so natural for Redeemer to depend on Eaton.
She was the starting setter for Wyoming Area‚??s team as a freshman but transferred to Redeemer after winning the MVP award of a summer camp program open to anyone three years ago.
‚??As a transfer coming in, she was still feeling her way here at the school,‚?Ě Kablick said. ‚??And volleyball‚??s the first sport (of the fall season). When you‚??re new in a school, you don‚??t want to step on anybody‚??s toes.‚?Ě
Eaton stayed in the background as a sophomore, watching setter Mary Loughran ‚?? who now plays for King‚??s College ‚?? run the Royals‚?? offense.
‚??Biz sat behind her,‚?Ě Kablick said. ‚??But there was a lot of tutelage here.‚?Ě
Eaton learned to set up and execute Holy Redeemer‚??s complicated offensive schemes from one of the best, but the excitement over watching her teammates finish off points is spontaneous.
‚??If you ever see me in the huddles,‚?Ě Eaton said, ‚??I always jump up and attack them when they get a kill.‚?Ě
Mainly because those spikes aren‚??t just points, they finish plays started by the player who often misses out on recognition.
‚??We run a lot of offense here, a lot of tandems, overheads, 10-balls out of the back row,‚?Ě Kablick said. ‚??We‚??re asking more of our setters here. She has to have more sets and better location (than others) on her sets. I don‚??t care how many hitters you have. Without a really accurate setter, your team is not the same team.‚?Ě