COVINGTON TWP. — Holy Redeemer senior Mike Prociak spent 2 1/2 hours of maneuvering his way around the front line, physically exhausting himself in an otherwise physically exhausting match. He stood within an earshot of a raucous North Pocono student section for five oscillating sets.
Still, at the end of the day, even after the highs of making the monumental attack and the key block in the biggest game of the season, he was still just a high school student. After paving the Royals’ way to the top of the Wyoming Valley Conference volleyball standings, who could blame him for taking a chance at teenage romance?
“I was wondering if you could print something,” Prociak requested. “I want to ask (Holy Redeemer girls basketball’s) Julie Kosik if she would go to prom with me.”
Prociak’s prom proposal came at the ruby heels of the biggest dance there is in District 2 boys volleyball. In a matchup between two 4-0 teams, the Royals outlasted the Trojans in a five-set tango by scores of 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 16-25, 19-17.
Prociak accounted for 29 kills and 11 blocks in total.
Holy Redeemer trailed 8-5 midway through the set and then found itself on the ropes with North Pocono holding match point at 14-12. Mike Conlon had a great recovery to place a ball in no-man’s land to give the Royals possession. Prociak tomahawked a lights-out kill to even the score at 14 apiece.
“When we’re missing serves and making mistakes, I know my teammates depend on me to put the ball away at the net,” Prociak said. “I kept my mind clear and swung through everything.”
The Royals’ troubles only began there. Three gut-wrenching service errors gave North Pocono hope each time as the deciding set entered extra points.
“This is probably for the championship, and this is a tough environment,” Holy Redeemer coach Jack Kablick said. “We didn’t want to put any more pressure on the kids. If you miss a serve, you miss a serve. Just forget it. This is a game where you have to have a short-term memory.
Mike Gatusky hit a sideline kill to give Holy Redeemer an 18-17 edge. North Pocono’s Nick Kopko sailed an attack too high, and the Royal bench was sent into jubilation.
“You have to be mentally tough to play this game,” Kablick said. “The game is on the line. You have game point in your line. We just had to hit it. And we did in the end.”
Gatusky finished with 14 kills and a key block in the late stages of the game. Conlon provided seven kills, six blocks and 40 assists.
Trailing two sets to one, North Pocono hit its stride in the fourth set with a 25-16 win. The Trojans’ Cory Rinaldi and Eric Kramer both finished with 11 kills.
Holy Redeemer scored the set point in the third in a bizarre fashion. A misplayed dig that was bound for the back wall caromed off a metal crossbar, hitting the roof and bouncing back into the field of play. The Royals won the point two rallies later.
Holy Redeemer 3, North Pocono 2
HR — Mike Prociak 29 kills, 11 blocks; Mike Gatusky 14 kills, 1 block, 1 assist, 6 service points; Mike Conlon 7 kills, 6 blocks, 40 assists, 7 digs, 7 service points; John Carr 9 kills, 7 blocks.
NP — Matt Savitz 7 kills, 6 blocks; Cory Rinaldi 6 service points, 11 kills, 9 digs, 2 blocks; Eric Kramer 4 service points, 11 kills, 13 digs, 4 blocks, 3 assists; Matt Morris 15 service points, 1 ace, 1 kill, 1 block, 39 assists.