Royals Reach New Heights, Will Play For 2A State Title
READING — Self-inflicted errors snowballed as Holy Redeemer girls volleyball couldn’t close its state semifinal.
In fact, Royals head coach Jack Kablick tallied 15 total points conceded to Delone Catholic by mistakes. The Squires took advantage, led by as many as eight points and had all the energy as they controlled the fourth set of the night and forced a fifth.
It was as if none of that had just happened when the deciding frame began. Redeemer’s Skylar Osenkarski had a tying kill, Liv Moore served the Royals into the lead, and they never gave it up as Osenkarski and Sarah Liskowicz played tough at the net for more crucial points.
The match-winner wasn’t so climatic — Delone Catholic sent a serve out of bounds — but it was still a huge moment for the Royals and their seniors. Holy Redeemer went the distance to beat Delone Catholic, 3-2, and finally advance from the state’s final four in Tuesday’s PIAA Class 2A semifinals.
“The girls never hung their head, even in the fourth set,” Kablick said. “It didn’t bother them. … That’s just mental toughness.”
Holy Redeemer heads to its first-ever girls volleyball championship. The Royals will take on District 6’s Bald Eagle Area at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg.
A state championship appearance has been a long work in progress for the Royals. They fell in last season’s state quarterfinals — to Delone Catholic, in straight sets — and in 2016’s semifinals. In 2015, the last season before the PIAA expanded from three to four classifications, Redeemer’s run ended in the quarterfinals.
Tuesday was one more opportunity for many Royals to advance further than ever.
“We just really, really wanted it,” Liskowicz said. “We’ve been wanting it for the past four years. It’s our last chance.”
“We knew everything was on the line,” Osenkarski said. “There’s no more year after this. … We just came out with everything we had.”
Redeemer made it happen in the fifth set, which didn’t seem in doubt for long.
Osenarski’s early kill gave Moore a chance to serve with a 2-all tie. Moore earned three points — and helped set up another Osenkarski kill in the process — for a 5-2 lead.
Redeemer kept rolling as Osenkarski set up a kill with two blocks; she and Liskowicz also teamed up at the net to cause trouble for a few more points. Maddie Lewis’ ace made it 12-6, and Osenkarski’s hard kill deflected backwards for a 14-6 lead.
“You say, ‘Just refocus. Let’s back in rhythm.’ And they went out there almost like robots,” Kablick described the late response. “Just went out there and played a great fifth set.”
The Royals were happy to settle for the quick match-clincher, though they almost earned it on their first match point. A rally went on for almost 45 seconds, as Osenkarski took a ricochet off her head and blocked another play at the net only to see her kill attempt land just outside.
Osenkarski had 21 kills and nine blocks, and Liskowicz finished with 18 kills and eight blocks. Moore tallied 18 and four.
After losing to Delone Catholic in five sets earlier this year, the Royals returned the favor. They’ve shaken off their recent postseason history and are another win away from making program history.
“We should be able to come out and play our absolute best. We know (Bald Eagle) is going to be really, really good,” Liskowicz said. “But we feel like with the way we’ve played up until this point, if we continue to work hard we’ll be able to do it.”
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