COVINGTON TWP. – Kelli Bray got above the net and drilled a cross-court shot deep into the Holy Redeemer corner.
The ball seemed destined to fall, but Sydney Kotch ran across the back line, hit the floor and dug it back to the front row.
It was a pretty close to perfect night for Kotch and the Royals' defense, limiting North Pocono's offense throughout the match as Redeemer left Lackawanna County with a 3-0 victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference volleyball showdown Thursday.
Game scores were 25-13, 25-11 and 25-14.
The victory puts Redeemer's regular-season winning streak at 96 matches, while Pocono falls to 4-2 in conference play.
"Defense is so important because it starts our offense. I think the defense does lead to the success of our offense," said Kotch as Redeemer finished with more than 20 digs in the match.
It stymied North Pocono's offense.
The Trojans had only three kills in the first set, and finished with nine on the evening.
"We had a real good returning back row," Redeemer coach John Kablick said. "We have 41 girls on the team, but only three seniors. We only had four people returning varsity experience, and they are good in the back row. It works out good because we run our offense from our defense."
Even when hitters like Bray and Malorie Deschaine got a good piece of the ball, the Royal defense made sure nothing hit the floor.
"There were not a lot of mistakes on their end, defensively," North Pocono coach Chris Summa said. "Their serve-receive was pretty impressive, and they were strong on defense. We had limited offense, and when we had some success, they dug everything."
On the other end, Royal hitters Sarah Warangiris and Nicole Slavoski had no problems dropping missiles toward the floor.
Warangiris had eight kills in the first set alone, and finished with a game-high 16. Slavoski, while finishing with 10 kills, showed her leadership behind the service line. When North Pocono got close in the third set, rallying from 7-1 down to get back to 12-11, Slavoski served three consecutive aces to spark a 7-1 run and extend the advantage back to 19-12.
"They are our primary hitters," Kablick said. "Last year, they were more secondary hitters behind Allie Griswold and Julia Wignot. This year, they understand that they need to be primary. They are going to get the ball if the game is close. And they've adapted to that role pretty well."
Holy Redeemer (6-0) wasted little time with big runs in each set.
The Royals jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the opening stanza, and closed the second set on a 14-5 run.
"I want to be aggressive on everything that we do, whether it is behind the 30-foot line, 10-foot line or at the net," Kablick said.
: Sarah Warangiris 20 kills, 6 service points, 4 digs, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 ace; Biz Eaton, 33 assists, 2 kills; Nicole Slavoski, 11 kills, 11 service points, 4 aces; Sydney Kotch, 15 service points, 4 digs 1 assist.
: Kelli Bray, 2 kills; Amanda Hall, 2 kills, 4 assists.
Nanticoke stayed unbeaten with a victory over GAR.
Alexandra Bassington led Nanticoke with 20 assists, six kills and four aces.
: Brittany Stevenson 4 kills, 4 digs; Monica Missal 2 kills, 1 dig, 3 points; Jocelyn Vazquez 2 kills, 2 digs, 2 pts.
NAN: Kayley Schinski 1 ace, 8 kills, 1 block, 2 digs; Alexandra Bassington 4 aces, 6 kills, 20 assists; Kendell Schinski 3 aces, 3 kills, 3 assists; Deanna Thomas 6 kills, 1 dig.
Berwick cruised in three sets to a win at home against Hanover Area.
Dejie Simmoms led Berwick with 11 assists.
: Toni Elick 10 digs, 3 aces, 3 kills; Heather Grady 15 digs; Molly Sorako 6 digs, 2 kills, 2 blocks
BER: Dejia Simmons 11 assists 2 aces; Nicoll Donayre 5 digs, 3 aces; Melady Morales 8 kills, 5 aces
Jess Balcarcel posted 17 service points and Alyssa Kelly chipped in 12 kills in Delaware Valley's victory.
: Jess Balcarcel 17 service points, 6 digs; Alyssa Kelly 12 kills, 6 blocks, 3 service points; Cassidy Cohen 10 kills, 7 service points
TUN: Erin Smith 12 assists, 6 digs, 4 kill; Michelle Goodwin 8 kills, 5 digs