DUNMORE — The Dunmore students were hollering and bouncing on the bleachers. The Bucks had all the momentum, forcing a fifth and final set after trailing 2-1.
Yet, it was Wyoming Area’s seniors that gathered themselves together – possibly for one last time and made a promise to each other.
No matter what happened in that fifth set, the Warriors were going to fight. And that, they did.
Wyoming Area jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the race to 15 as the No. 4 Warriors upset top-seed Dunmore, 3-2, in the District 2 Class 2A semifinals last night.
Set scores were 15-25, 25-17, 25-13, 17-25 and 15-9.
With the victory, Wyoming Area advances to play state-ranked Holy Redeemer, which needed a mere 43 minutes to dispose of North Pocono in straight sets. Thursday’s match at Wilkes University begins at 7 p.m.
“This means so much for us. The seniors, we’ve been playing as teammates for so long now,” said setter Rachael Solano, who had 27 assists. “This is really the icing on the cake. Going into that fifth set, it was all about energy and keeping everyone up. I can’t describe this feeling. It’s such a rush.”
Guts and determination.
Wyoming Area could taste it. Up 2-1 in the match and all the momentum on its side.
Yet, Dunmore – champs of the Lackawanna League – did what you would expect on its home floor. Led by a two-attack offense from Isabelle Cooper and Abby Bessoir, the Bucks controlled the set, jumping out to a 17-10 edge before closing it out 25-17.
Nick Diaco admitted he didn’t say much to the girls before the fifth set.
“I just said the players wearing green that played in the second and third sets were going to show up for the fifth set,” the Warriors head coach said. “And they showed it. At a certain point, as a coach, you just back off. I don’t want to micromanage them. They are experienced seniors.”
And who else but Nicole Wright to jump-start her team. Wright, who had a huge run to clinch Mondays’ win over Crestwood, got Wyoming Area to an early, 4-0 lead in that fifth set, and coupled with a short spurt by Megan Wysocki behind the serve line, the Warriors found themselves up 7-1.
And a six-point edge in a race to 15 is enormous.
“No matter what happened, we weren’t going to give up,” Sorick said. “We are always in a match. We are so resilient. We knew that this was our game. I feel like this was meant for us. We worked so hard, and put some much belief into each other. That lead in the fifth set was great. We just came out on fire.”
Dunmore cut it back to 10-8 on back-to-back kills from Bessoir, That’s the closest it got. A kill by Heather Nametko and block by Wright boosted the lead back to four.
“Coming into playoffs, I don’t know how many people picked us this far,” Diaco said. “I don’t know if people expected us to beat Crestwood. The girls had a chip on their shoulder. They felt that they could compete. And it showed tonight.”
Dunmore jumped out to a 1-0 lead after Cooper and Bessoir combined for 11 kills in the opening stanza. But the Warriors dominated the middle two sets before the Bucks rallied in the fourth.
“As far as I know, Wyoming Area has never made it this far,” Diaco said. “To get to this point, the district final, it’s amazing. Regardless of what happens, it’s a success in our book.”
Holy Redeemer 3, North Pocono 0
Defensively, you won’t find a better performance.
Even Olivia Mennig didn’t realize how good Holy Redeemer’s defense had performed Tuesday afternoon.
For those wondering, it was dominant.
The Royals held North Pocono to just four kills as the multiple-time defending District 2 Class 2A champ moved into Thursday’s championship with a 3-0 victory over Pocono in a match that lasted just 43 minutes.
Set scores were 25-8, 25-6 and 25-7.
“We worked really hard, especially in practice,” Mennig said. “Coming into this match, we were confident. We feel like we don’t have any weak points. Our offense and defense is so strong.”
It was impressive enough. The feat was even more phenomenal considering this was a district semifinal against a North Pocono squad that won 13 matches in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
“Our offense is so good because of our passing,” Redeemer head coach Jack Kablick said. “If we don’t have accurate passing, you can’t get into an offense. Olivia, Brynn (Kukosky), Lauren (Slavoski), Kassie (Schinski), they were just super. We are playing at a pretty high level right now. It’s great to see.”
And a strong offense Redeemer had.
Four attackers had more than four kills – led by Division I recruit Slavoski, who got ohs and ahs from the crowd on some of her thunderous slams.
Slavoski had 15 kills, while 6-foot middle Amanda Curcio knocked down nine spikes.
North Pocono had one lead in the match after winning the opening point on Katlyn Ivanoff’s middle kill.
Redeemer followed by rattling off eight points on Mennig’s serve, and continued to pepper the Trojan defense before rolling off a 25-8 first-set win in just 14 minutes.
The Royals used a 12-1 run to break open the second set, and scored six straight on Kukosky’s serve to begin the final stanza before leading 16-4.
“We put a lot of pressure on teams, and it’s tough to attack us back,” Kablick said.
Kukosky, Schinski and setter Courtney Kijek each added four kills in the victory, while Kijek had 25 assists.