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Warriors Unseat Royals From Atop WVC

May 9, 2019 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — The image was burned in Jackson Shafer’s mind.

The Delaware Valley attacker never forgot the scene of Holy Redeemer celebrating their 2018 Wyoming Valley Conference title on the Warriors’ home court.

Wednesday night, Shafer got his redemption.

The Warrior finished with 23 kills, while teammate Blake Gearhart added 18 spikes as Del Val swept Redeemer, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21, to earn the 2019 WVC championship.

It snapped a streak of five straight Redeemer titles. The last time the Royals didn’t hold the crown was 2013 when North Pocono won the WVC. That year, however, Redeemer did win the district’s Class 2A title.

“All season, this was the match I’ve thought about,” Shafer said. “I watched them celebrate on our home court, and that didn’t sit right with me. I’m a competitor, and I knew that I was going to work my butt off to come in and compete. Words can’t describe it. There is so much emotion. It’s such an unreal moment that we won’t forget for the rest of our lives.”


Really, this night belonged to the three big hitters: Shafer, Gearhart and Redeemer’s Jared Piontkowski.

All three lived up to the top billing as Piontkowski finished with 27 kills. The problem was Redeemer couldn’t find enough offense to offset the Warriors’ two big hitters as the junior accounted for all but 10 Royal kills.

“You have to give their two hitters a ton of credit,” Redeemer head coach Jack Kablick said. “We knew that they were getting the sets, and we blocked them a ton. But they were able to control the game. We knew where it was going. They had one kill down the middle, and no kills from opposite. Their guys were really good tonight, and they had a nice thumb-down cut. They had a lot in their arsenal.”

It didn’t start off the best for the Warriors (12-0).

Piontkowski started off the match with three blocks and three kills as Redeemer jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the opening set.

That’s when Shafer got rolling.

He had nine kills in the opening stanza and the Warriors climbed back into the match. A 3-0 run on Matthew Seger’s serve gave the Warriors their first lead at 20-18. Zane Papula’s middle kill that sealed the come-from-behind victory.

“This really is the best feeling in the world,” Gearhart said. “We haven’t had much luck against them in the last three years, so we really wanted this. And what a great group of guys to do it with. We didn’t start off the best and dug ourselves a little hole. We just had to go on runs and side out. We had to play smart, mistake-free volleyball.”

Del Val jumped out to a 14-5 lead to start the second set, but Redeemer used a 9-2 run — sparked by three blocks by Piontkowski — to creep within two, 16-14. Again, the Warriors fed Gearhart and Shafer and ended the stanza on a 9-6 run to grab the 2-0 lead in the match.


Redeemer (11-1) made one last comeback, down only two, 20-18, in the third. Del Val finished by scoring five of the final eight points —capped off by Gearhart’s 18th kill to seal the WVC crown.

“We are always learning, and we will go over tomorrow on things that we could have done,” Kablick said. “I don’t believe that we ran enough offense. We run a ton of offense in practice, but tonight, we didn’t run any one-ball or slides. The only thing that was successful was our 32s to Jared. We just didn’t do enough to win. They outplayed us.”






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