WILKES-BARRE – Even at less than their best, both Holy Redeemer and Nanticoke had little difficulty standing up to playoff pressure.
Today, one of them has to crack.
Senior captains Nicole Slavoski and Sarah Warnagaris combined for 19 kills and 18 service points to spark Holy Redeemer's sweep, and sisters Kendell and Kayley Schinski recorded consecutive kills to polish off Nanticoke's 3-0 victory in District 2 girls semifinal matches at Holy Redeemer High School.
They'll face off against each other for the district title at 3 p.m. today at North Pocono.
It's always great to play with pressure, said Slavoski, who helped Redeemer remain undefeated through four years of league and district play. Pressure makes me step up.
Not that the Royals really felt challenged while knocking out North Pocono, 25-18, 25-18, 25-17.
They trailed briefly in the first game, 6-4, until Warnagiris stepped to the service line and fired off four consecutive Holy Redeemer points. Three of them were aces and Slavoski killed the other point.
Nicole and Sarah are our two go-to players, Redeemer coach Jack Kablick said. Everybody knows they're our two go-to players. But stopping them is another thing.
There was no stopping Slavoski the rest of the night. She put up a block and a kill in succession, helping the Royals snap an early tie in the second game, and pounded home consecutive kills near the end of the final game.
My goal was to just pound and be a hitter (Friday), Slavoski said.
Still, Kablick believes a similar sub-par performance will lead to trouble in today's championship match.
It's going to take a little better playing than we had tonight, Kablick said. We really didn't adjust as well as I thought we would have. They're teenagers, they're nervous.
Things became a little tense for Nanticoke also, during a 25-22, 25-13, 25-22 victory over stubborn Crestwood.
But Alexander Brassington dished out 24 assists, Kayley Schinski came through with 11 kills and two blocks, and Nancy Adkins added seven kills to put the Trojans in the championship.
It was an ugly win, Nanticoke coach Deb Krupinski said. But I'll take ugly. I just overheard the girls talking, they said, ‘We have to play better (today), put on a better show.'
Carina Mazzoni put on a floor show for the Comets, with 15 assists and seven digs. But it wasn't quite enough to keep Crestwood's surprising season alive.
It hurts, Crestwood coach Mike Williams said. But we had a nice year. Over the last two years, we graduated five first-team all-stars. Nobody expected these girls would be here before the season.
We needed to win one game to get things going. But we didn't grab that game.
That's because the Trojans kept snatching Crestwood's chances away.
Nanticoke's formula was simple: grab the upper hand quickly and turn up the intensity each time the Comets nudged close. It worked throughout all three games, giving Nanticoke the sweep.
It's always good to have the upper hand, Kayley Schinski said.
Now, they'll try to pick up their level of play in a match where the Trojans will be a decided underdog.
We can beat them if we play to our potential, Kayley Schinski said. We're going to have to come out hard.
: Carina Mazzoni 15 assists, four service points, seven digs; Taryn Wojnar five kills, four service points, six digs; Grace Emmett eight service points, five digs.
Nanticoke:Kayley Schinski 11 kills, two blocks, two digs, two assists, ace; Alex Brassington 24 assists, two aces; Nancy Adkins seven kills, assist, ace.
: Emily Cook five kills; Malorie Deschaine six kills.
Holy Redeemer:Nicole Slavoski 15 kills, 11 service points; Sarah Warnagiris 14 kills, seven service points, five digs; Biz Eaton 29 assists.