ATHENS — For the NTL beating Holy Redeemer has always that unattainable goal.
For the past 12 years the best District IV had to offer always ran aground against the Royals.
North Penn-Liberty has been frustrated by them for the last three years.
This year that frustration burst like a dam as the Mountaineers rolled to the 3-0 sweep, winning the sets 25-14, 25-18 and 25-10.
“It feels amazing,” exclaimed Maddison Minyo after the win. “We’ve played these guys in the first round of the state playoffs the last four years now and this is the first time we’ve ver beat them. We’ve only ever gotten one set on them.”
They made no secret that this match was on their mind.
“We prepared for this all season long,” remarked JoAnne McNamara.
“They knew they had some tough hurdles in our league and our district but they just had their eye on this first round of state,” added NPL coach Jennifer Nawri.
Minyo led the team with 15 kills, nabbing her 750th career kill during the match, to go with two points, two blocks and nine digs.
It wasn’t just the hard hits for Minyo, she seemed two steps ahead of the Royals defense with her soft touch as well.
“She just had a lot of things up her sleeve tonight,” Nawri mentioned. “She was watching for those open spots. She is such a great team player that she brings everyone up around her.”
Grace Tice (seven kills, two blocks) and Elizabeth Welch (six kills, five blocks) also helped the Mountaineers dominate at the net while Charisma Grega (nine points, four kills, two blocks, 21 digs) had a strong all-around game.
“In years past they dug everything,” said McNamara. “They were great tonight but we just came out stronger in any years.”
On the back line Ali Koval had 10 points and 13 digs as the libero while McNamara had nine points, nine assists and two digs and Julia Nawri added three points and 18 assists.
“We were all super hyped up and that really helped us to win with everybody being on,” explained Minyo.
As good as their offense was their defense held Holy Redeemer’s big hitter Livia Moore to 13 kills. She came in with 501 on the season.
“We have amazing libero and every girl who plays on the back row is just great,” Minyo remarked.
Defense has been a strong emphasis for the Mountaineers coming into the match.
“All we do in practice is work defense,” McNamara said. “Our offense is great but defense is definitely a point.”
NPL struggled finding their aim early in the match as three missed kills gave the Royals a 4-1 lead in the first set.
After that the Mountaineers chipped away, eventually going on a four point run to go up 8-6, led off with a Grega kill.
A serve out of bounds ended that run but another began as NPL then went on a five point run, thanks to three kills from Minyo and one from Tice, to take a 13-7 lead and force the Royals to burn a timeout.
Holy Redeemer would cut it to 13-9 but mini-runs of two and three points gave NPL a 19-11 lead.
From there they out scored Holy Redeemer 6-3 to get the first set.
The Royals got another early lead in the second set, going up 3-1 and 5-3 but NPL went on a 4-point run to go up 7-5 thanks to two kills from Welch and one from Grega.
The Mounties went on a 4-point run to up 11-6 then followed that up with another 3-point run to take a 15-8 lead.
A Moore kill stopped the run, making it 15-9, but they couldn’t slow down NPL.
From there the Mountaineers out scored 10-5, letting them get no closer five points, to take the second set.
The final set was a victory lap for NPL.
They scored the first point on a Welch kill and never looked back.
It was tied 4-4 at one point then the Mountaineers rattled off seven straight points, following that up with another seven point run to go up 18-5.
Holy Redeemer did enough down the stretch to get out of single digits but it was fitting for the Mountaineers as they ended the match on back to back Minyo kills.
NPL will now face Panther Valley, the District XI champion, on Saturday. If they play like this did on Tuesday, they could be busy for the next week.
“Each match we just got better and better,” said coach Nawri. “We have a fantastic team. It’s a great group of girls.”