AP NEWS

Holy Redeemer Junior Jared Piontkowski Has The ‘it’ Factor

May 12, 2019

WILKES-BARRE — The coveted “it” factor is there.

Forget about watching Jared Piontkowski in a match. No matter the opponent, situation or score, he’s the player that’s taking over at any given point.

Yes, the ball just sounds different coming off his hand. Maybe not that typical thud of skin slapping volleyball but, rather, a thunderous noise that sounds like he’s snapping the ball in half with every monstrous swing.

Watch him warm up prior to the match. No wasted motions. A look of total focus and concentration on his face.

That’s where that “it” factor shows up.

“He’s so dedicated to the game. He’s respectful and coachable,” Redeemer head coach Jack Kablick said. “He has so much room to grow yet. He’s only in his second year of really playing volleyball. He’s still learning about himself and the game.”

It’s amazing to see how far he’s coming in just one season.

In 2018, Piontkowski was the second option behind Ben Rachilla, who is currently at Division 1 Quincy University. The raw potential was there. He played hard every point and made the most of every opportunity presented to him.

Now, Piontkowski is the coveted Division I recruit — and the dominating force in the Wyoming Valley Conference. He led the league in kills and blocks with 250 and 75, respectively. That’s almost 100 more kills and 30 more blocks than he had in 2018.

“I’m really surprised how much I’ve grown,” the junior said. “I just transformed and put all of my heart into the game that I love. It paid off. I have to thank my teammates, because they are the ones that always push me in practice. I wouldn’t be who I am without them.”

There’s an old saying that talks about a village raising a child. Maybe it’s the perfect expression to show much Piontkowski has improved because the junior credits everyone in his development.

The Holy Redeemer coaches. All of his teammates. Rachilla. His KRVA (Keystone Region Volleyball Association) coaches and teammates.

And his brother, Matt, a former Royal who now attends King’s College.

“My brother is always there for me when I ask his advice. He’s always telling me what I can do better. He’s such a great role model,” Jared Piontkowski said.

For Matt, though, it’s not much of a surprise to see his brother’s breakout campaign.

“I always knew he would be something special. He has always worked harder than anyone at whatever sport he plays and he has so much God given athleticism on top of that,” he said. “I could not be more proud of what he has done and what his future holds for him. Watching from the stand is the worst because I’d rather be out there with him. And yes, I was on edge the whole game when Redeemer played Del Val, but all I could do now is cheer and help him in practices to make sure he is the best he can be.”

The buzz around the Redeemer gymnasium was a little louder before the Royals hosted Lake-Lehman two weeks ago.

A coach from Ohio State, THE Ohio State University, was going to be in the building.

“He was actually going to come to the DV match or the Tunkhannock match, but his plans kind of changed.” Jared Piontkowski said. “Everyone was like, “What does he look like and what is he going to wear?” Then he walked in with the Ohio State jacket. I was pretty nervous in that first set, knowing that a D1 coach is there watching you. In the second and third sets, I feel that — not only myself — but the whole team showed how Redeemer volleyball plays.”

As the regular season closes and the postseason grind begins, it’s about getting back to the top of the mountain in District 2 Class 2A volleyball.

Redeemer enters as the No. 1 seed and wouldn’t need to leave its home gymnasium until the district championship at Dallas on May 23.

With Piontkowski on their side, the Royals enter as the odds-on favorite to repeat.

“We’ve had some fantastic players here, and we’ve had some great players that could have played in college that decided not to,” Kablick said. “But I believe that Jared has a chance to be one of the best here at Redeemer, if not, the best all-around player on the men’s side.”

Contact the writer:

sports@citizensvoice.com