Holy Redeemer moves on to PIAA volleyball semifinals.
QUAKERTOWN — The set hung in the balance. The fate of thematch—theseason— rested on how the next few points unfolded.
When everything’s on the line and your back’s against the wall, big-time players take matches into their own hands.
Holy Redeemer and New Hope-solebury each had a set win during Saturday’s PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal at Quakertown High School. The pivotal third set stood 20-18 in New Hope’s favor.
At their most trying time, the Royals got a kill from Skylar Osenkarski.
And another one.
And another one.
And another one. Four Osenkarski kills swung control to Holy Redeemer’s favor before Sarah Liskowicz slammed set-point down.
Winning the third set didn’t technically award thematch to Holy Redeemer, but it likely determined the course the rest of the afternoon took. The fourth set was a 25-12r oyal romp to close the match, 3-1, and put Holy Redeemer into the state semifinals.
Osenkarski totaled 31 kills on the day, but the biggest came when her team needed it the most.
“She’s not a two-time allstater for nothing,” Holy Redeemer coach John Kablick said. “I think (setter Korren Hicks) knows where she is when they game’s super tight. We have five hitters on this team and anybody can hit from anywhere, but Skylar came up big. She’s been big for the last four years.”
Osenkarski said the key was simply for the Royals to fix their issues.
“We got ourselves into a lot of ruts and we had to eliminate that quick because getting yourself in a rut then coming back is the hardest thing,” she said. “Once we figured out how to eliminate them, then we controlled the game.”
Hicks set up the offense with 57 assists in the match.
While the kill numbers were big — Livia Moore added 15, Julia Andrejko eight and Liskowicz seven — Holy Redeemer’s defensive play at the net played a crucial roll in the team advancing.
“We watched a little bit of film on them coming into the game so we were a little prepared,” Moore said. “We knew (Gwen Vogelsang and Katie Costello), they’re tremendous hitters, but we knew if we got up there and were solid in our blocking then it would just go down. We got a lot of points off that.”
While Vogelsang (15 kills) and Costello (11 kills) did their fair share of damage, the Royal blockers stood tall getting many points directly off the block.
Osenkarski had nine blocks, Moore had six and Liskowicz and Andrejko each had a pair.
“We practiced really hard and knew coming in their two main hitters were outside,” Osenkarski said. “So, we practiced blocking outside and always knew where their main hitters were.”
“We work very, very hard on blocking,” Klabick said. “We put so much time into blocking and back row defense, digging, and it pays off.”
The day’s opening set was one of runs. An initial 8-2 Royal lead turned into a 13-9 Lion advantage.
The final tide turned in Holy Redeemer’s favor as it took the set 25-18.
The second set was more even, tied at eight spots before New Hope surged at the end for a 25-23 win.
With the match even, the play echoed the scoreboard. Little separation was had either way in the third set. A kill and an ace from Costello put New Hope up 20-18. Then Osenkarski took over. After the Royals got ahead in the match, they didn’t let up.
They opened the fourth set up 9-3. Although New Hope got back within two, a 15-4 Holy Redeemer’s run, including Moore serving the final eight points, closed out the day.
“One thing we don’t do that other teams do is, when they’re down they start to deteriorate and lose their energy,” Moore said. “A phrase we focus on is, ‘Focus on the next point.’ We were taking it a point at a time and I think that got their mentality down.”
Holy Redeemer improves to 23-1, while New Hope closes its season at 21-2.
“I thought it was going to be a tough one,” Klabick said. This team I believe only lost one match the entire season. We knew they had the two big outside hitters who are really good, good setters, back row was solid. We just kept grinding. And, we were hitting from everywhere. We knew they were going to come outside 80 percent of the time, but we were attacking from everywhere and that makes a difference.”
Holy Redeemer plays District 3 champion Delone Catholic in Tuesday’s semifinal at a site to be announced.
“We made it this far, we practiced our butts off,” Osenkarski said. “We did everything to make it this far. I’m really excited for this.”
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