They deal with their boys volleyball dynasty in different ways.
Some Holy Redeemer Royals try to ignore it.
“It’s kind of something that’s not talked about,” setter Jeremy Myslowski said.
Others use it to inspire themselves.
“Yeah, we always bring it up before games,” junior hitter Mike Prociak said.
But however they choose to handle five seasons of Wyoming Valley Conference superiority, there’s no denying the pressure that comes with each passing victory.
Holy Redeemer’s regular-season winning streak reached 69 consecutive matches at the start of this season, giving the Royals something to boast and cringe about at the same time — and giving their opponents a big target to shoot for.
“Well, there’s always pressure to keep the streak going,” Myslowski said. “Every team comes in thinking they’re going to be the one to blow the streak.”
Could this be the season it ends?
Redeemer’s two-time all-state setter is no longer around because Rob Wingert graduated after last season.
So did Mike Vamos, T.J. Doyle and Dylan Myslowski, all starters with star quality.
And the four new faces who replaced that veteran experience in Redeemer’s lineup seem to leave the Royals looking a lot more vulnerable at the start of this season.
“Absolutely,” Redeemer coach Jack Kablick agreed, “especially early on. We lost four seniors, including the two-time all-stater Rob Wingert who was the heart of our team. Basically, his leadership is one of the most difficult things we’ve had to replace.
“This year, we have four sophomores with no varsity experience.”
But that doesn’t mean Redeemer’s regular-season dynasty is doomed.
“This is a much younger team than we’ve had,” said Myslowski, Dylan’s brother. “But I think there’s a lot more potential to grow as a team than there was last year.”
Myslowski, a senior, grew up not knowing what it’s like to lose in WVC play as a member of Redeemer’s perennial star-quality team. So did Prociak, who plans to be in the center of another season of success at the net.
“It’s always a great feat to keep a streak going this long,” Prociak said. “With coach Kablick, you can’t be too surprised. We have young players coming up through the system every year. They’re getting more experience every game. Every day we’re improving more and more. I think we’re very capable. We should have a successful year.”
But will it be a fifth straight year without a blemish on Redeemer’s regular-season record?
Even the highly-successful veteran Kablick can’t tell right now.
“It takes really intelligent athletes, number one,” Kablick said of the amazing run of his teams. “It takes young men who buy into the program.”
Kablick believes he has that commitment and those smarts on this year’s team.
It’s the concentration level of his current players that concerns him.
“Sometimes we lose focus as a team,” Kablick said. “Some games, we look like we’re world-beaters. Other times, we look like we can lose to anybody at any time.”
Maybe that thought alone will be enough to spark another unbeaten regular season at Holy Redeemer.
“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Prociak said. “You don’t want to be the team that ends the streak.”