Top-ranked Royals Survive First-round Test
COVINGTON TWP. — Skylar Osenkarski probably never had a bigger block in her high school volleyball career.
But when the Holy Redeemer senior sent a North Penn-Liberty spike back to the Mounties’ side of the floor, you could hear a sigh of relief from the Royal faithful in attendance at North Pocono High School.
When the state playoffs start, it’s all about surviving and advancing.
Osenkarski ended with 25 kills as Holy Redeemer survived a stern test from the District 4 champ, 3-1, Tuesday night in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A girls volleyball tournament. Set scores were 25-15, 20-25, 25-22 and 25-15.
The victory vaults the top-ranked Royals into Saturday’s state quarterfinals against District 1 champ New Hope-Solebury, a straight-set winner in its match.
“You have to play every match with the same intensity, no matter who the opponent is,” Osenkarski said. “You have to just play your game and play within yourself. We really had to pick up the energy after that second set because it dropped a little bit. Everyone on this team has each other’s back, so it was good to see that we responded. It’s a good start, and I’m excited to see how it goes.”
No doubt, it’s new ground for the Royals, which is ranked No. 1 in the latest 2A state rankings.
Every season, it seems like Redeemer is the one looking to pull off the big upset. This year, with a group of experienced seniors returning, it’s the District 2 champ that’s the hunted by the remainder of the state.
“I’ll be honest, it’s different not being the underdog,” said Redeemer libero Sarah Kuderka, who finished with 14 digs. “When we found out that we were No. 1, we practiced the same way. We said congratulations, and went right back at it. It’s a good feeling, and it’s good for our confidence.”
North Penn-Liberty, which has seen its season ended by Redeemer the last three years, took its best shot.
After being dominated in the first set, the Mounties and hard-hitting Brooke Harvey came out swinging – grabbing leads of 17-14 and 22-19 before winning the final three points to steal the set, 25-20, and even the match at 1-all.
“We showed some resiliency. We had to grind this one out,” Redeemer head coach Jack Kablick said. “Hey, North Penn-Liberty is a good team. It’s the same players we’ve seen for the last three years. They are good. We gave up 16 points in that second set. That’s too many in a big match like this. We need to keep that number to about 10, and make the other team score 15 against us.”
Redeemer was in a bit of trouble in the third set, trailing 17-13. But Osenkarski made sure it was short-lived.
The all-state player had eight kills in the stanza, and the Royals — behind the serving of Julia Andrejko, Maddie Lewis and Korren Hicks — ended the third on a momentum-changing 12-5 run as Redeemer scored five of the final seven points when the set was knotted at 20-20.
“We worked through a lot of adversity today,” Kuderka said. “We played with a lot of fight and heart. Our defense adjusted well, and the hitters did a great job of finding their targets. We worked through it.”
Junior Liv Moore took over the final set; one where the locals scored for the first four points, and ended it on an 8-1 run. Moore had six of her 12 kills in the fourth.
“I think we were on in the first set, but we just lost some of that energy in the second,” Moore said. “But we were able to pick it back up by supporting each other. Right now, it feels like we have something to live up to. We have to prove the standard that we are No. 1 in the state and there is a reason for it.”