SET ’EM UP: Hicks Quarterbacks A Potent Offense
WILKES-BARRE — The hits come from all angles. Vicious slams that put another point on the Holy Redeemer side of the scoreboard.
You see the kill and cheer the hitter that put it down, but more than meets the eye goes into how it came to be.
With numerous dangerous hitters manning the net, the Royals employ a offense that maximizes its potential.
“Most of the years we would’ve loved to run what we’re running right now. We run a real diverse, quick offense,” said Holy Redeemer coach Jack Klabick. “Our outsides run four different sets, our middles run five, our opposites run three different kind of sets. Then, we run a couple back row sets and most of it is really quick.
“Some of the years, you just have to adapt to your team. This team was experienced, and we were able to do what we really wanted to do, which was to run really quick all the time.”
That offense will be on display today at 1 p.m. in the PIAA Class 2A state championship game against Bald Eagle.
In the middle of it all is setter Korren Hicks. The senior is responsible for deciding the best hitter to set up and which hit will work best.
“It definitely feels like I’m almost the quarterback of the team where I have to make the decision on who’s on, who’s not right now. Who’s going to be able to finish it in this big moment for us,” Hicks said. “I have to do the best with what I’m given passing-wise. Then, I have to decide who’s my go-tos. Obviously Skylar (Osenkarski), she’s always good to get us out in a really tight moment.”
Hicks said a lot of what goes into the play is her reading the defense, who’s positioned where and what areas are the best to attack.
“We’ll always take a look on who’s across from us,” Hicks said. “Let’s say their best blocker is on the outside, I’m going to set opposite so we’re away from the best blocker. It has a lot to do with who’s matched up with who and who’s going to be on fire tonight, who’s going to be the dominant hitter for the night and who’s on the other side.”
Klabick said he and his staff put in their input when they notice something, but most of the time, Hicks is running the show.
“I let her go. She has pretty much a free reign out there,” Klabick said, “but if I see something or Jeff, my assistant see’s something worth running, we’ll say, ‘Let’s get this call.’ But basically, she does 90 percent of the calls.”
While there’s a lot of complex decisions that are made about what play to run, sometimes it just comes down to who has the hot hand.
“Skylar, a couple games ago when she was getting 30 kills, I was like, ‘Keep setting her because they can’t stop her,’” Hicks said. “You just go with whoever’s having the best night, they’re you’re go-to.”
But before Hicks can do her job, the play begins with the back row picking up a dig and making the initial pass.
“It kind of depends on what kind of pass she gets, that dictates what we’re going to run,” Klabick said. “I think we run a great freeball offense. Serve-receive, nobody even talks about that. If you don’t serve-receive the ball, there’s no way to score. If your setter’s running all over the court trying to get that second contact, what she’s going to do with it? Our serve-receive with Julia (Andrejko), Sarah Kuderka and Liv Moore is the best we’ve ever had here.
“They’ve been doing such a good job,” Hicks added. “The past postseason they’ve been working really hard and it’s been helpful. It makes it so much easier for me.
As libero, Kuderka says it adds some pressure to first being responsible for not letting the ball hit the ground, and at the same time getting the offense started. But, the reward is a great feeling.
“Coach always says it always starts with the pass,” Kuderka said. “I feel a lot of pressure to set up the entire offense. When I get a good pass or when someone else gets a good pass in the back row, and we’re able to feed it to Korren for a good hit, even though our hitters get the attention, there’s a good feeling inside that we started it.”
Moore and Andrejko join Kuderka to lead a solid backline that was been crucial to the team’s success.
“Me, Liv and Sarah are the three main serve-receivers. Everything starts with the pass. If you don’t get a good pass you can’t do anything else,” Andrejko said. “The last game, the amount of balls we kept up and digs we had, it was insane. We had about 55 together. We played so well. If we keep the ball up and get them a good pass, everything normally combines and works together.”
For Holy Redeemer, everything has come together in perfect unison creating a highly potent offense. The pass and set lead up to a hit that can come from a variety of angles. The versatility Holy Redeemer’s offense has makes it all the more dangerous.
“Even sometimes if it’s not the best pass, I can set anyone, anyone’s going to be able to put it down,” Hicks said. “It’s good to be able to feel I can go to anyone and everyone’s reliable. It’s nice to have everyone as an option.”