2016 Times Leader Boys Volleyball All-Stars

Eddie Lukowski, Sr., Nanticoke Area
A multiple-year starter for Nanticoke Area, Lukowski was one of the best setters in the Wyoming Valley Conference. A Times Leader first-team selection in 2015, Lukowski was second in the league with 396 assists, behind DelVal’s Liam Naturale. He was more than just a setter though. He added 28 kills, 24 blocks and 119 service points. Lukowski was a first-team WVC pick in 2016.

Brent Piontkowski, Sr., Nanticoke Area
It’s hard to believe that Piontkowski was only in his third season as a volleyball player after playing baseball as a freshman. He led the Wyoming Valley Conference in kills with 186, and was the focal point of the Trojan offense. A 6-foot-5 senior, Piontkowski was second on the team in blocks and was an efficient server with 102 points. He was selected to the conference’s first team.

Second Team
Justin Casey, Nanticoke

PIAA volleyball: Trojans overpowered by Northeastern
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Right place, right time, all the time.
That’s how three-time-defending state champion Northeastern played on the court Saturday, perfectly executing its gameplan and sweeping Nanticoke Area, 3-0, out of the PIAA Class AA boys volleyball quarterfinals.a
Set scores in the match played at Exeter Township High School were 25-7, 25-8, 25-6.
“Phenomenal team,” Nanticoke Area coach Deb Gavin said of her opponent. “Glad to be here, glad to play against the best in the state. That in itself is an honor.”
Nanticoke Area’s shortcomings were most evident in its ineffective passing. But even when the Trojans put together a solid sequence, Northeastern stifled them with a well-synchronized defense, snatching away any momentum Nanticoke Area had built.
However, Nanticoke Area came through with a few highlights, like scoring back-to-back points in the first set on a Justin Casey kill and Josh Baranowski ace.
Casey finished with a team-high four kills, while Brent Piontkowski added three kills and Ed Lukowski had 13 assists.
It was the final high school match for seniors Piontkowski, Lukowski and Brinton Ball, who helped the program reach new heights over the past four years.
“I think we helped set a high bar for future volleyball teams,” said Piontkowski, who dropped baseball for volleyball his sophomore year and developed into one of the league’s top players. “We have a good team coming up next year, and I think they can make it back here again.”
Since their freshmen year, the senior class won 38 regular-season league matches, as well as six in District 2 playoffs.
Additionally, Wednesday’s win against Cardinal O’Hara was the program’s first in the PIAA playoffs.
“I think good students make good athletes, which they definitely are, and they made good role models for this team,” Gavin said of her seniors. “They’re coachable, they’re smart kids, they know how to bring the team along. They got us to this point, so they deserve a lot of credit.”
While Nanticoke Area (14-3) is finished, District 3 champion Northeastern (19-0) marches on to the state semifinals. On Tuesday, it will play District 3 runner-up York Suburban at a site and time to be determined.
Northeastern sported five returning all-state selections on the court, including Ohio State commit Reese Devilbiss. The outside hitter lived up to the hype Saturday with his blocks and booming serves and swings.
“Playing against (Devilbiss) was fun,” Piontkowski said, “but watching him warm up was even more fun.”
Northeastern never trailed in the match. With a win Tuesday, the Bobcats would play Saturday for the program’s seventh state title.
Northeastern 25 25 25 - 3
Nanticoke Area 7 8 6 - 0

Nanticoke Area sweeps Cardinal O'Hara
Nicholas Gill - Citizens Voice

The Nanticoke Area boys volleyball team entered Wednesday night’s meeting with Cardinal O’Hara looking to make school history by winning a PIAA tournament match.
The Trojans used superior athleticism to accomplish their goal and advanced to the next round with a sweep.
“It is amazing,” Brent Piontkowski said. “We are going to go down as the first team to win a state playoff game for volleyball. Our junior class is going to be really strong and this will set a bar for them next year.”
Piontkowski embodied the advantage that Nanticoke Area held over Cardinal O’Hara in the 25-15, 25-14, and 25-17 set wins.
The senior racked up 10 kills, using top-quality jumping ability to rise above the net and generate powerful kills.
The Trojans roared out to a fast start, using a combination of errors from the Lions and their own skills.
Justin Casey blocked a kill and Eddie Lukowski placed a finesse shot just over the net to put Nanticoke Area out in front 6-1.
Nanticoke Area extended the lead to 16-4 after Casey strung together three consecutive two-handed power kills.
The first set ended when Lukowski made a tremendous save to keep a ball alive. Piontkowski benefitted from the hustle and pounded a shot from the end line into the ground for the 25-15 first set win.
Lukowski set up teammates, hustled after loose balls and served well.
“He is the glue to the whole team,” Nanticoke Area head coach Debbie Gavin said of Lukowski. “He is fast. When our passes go astray, Eddie is fast enough to go get it. He is smart enough to put it where he has to. He is the best setter that our school has ever had.”
The second set followed a similar pattern as the first, except Cardinal O’Hara hung around early. The Trojans rebounded from some early errors, but eventually proved their might, taking advantage of Lion’s miscues and setting up Piontkowski for power kills.
“It was a different kind of game,” Gavin said. “The speed of the game was slow. That hurts us. We don’t coach slow. We coach a faster speed when we play volleyball and I think that disturbed our line-up a little bit. Although we won, it was like a chess match.”
In the third set Nanticoke Area rushed out to an 8-2 lead, getting contributions from several players.
Casey swatted a block. Piontkowski followed with a kill and Carlos Castillo ripped an ace to propel the Trojans to an early 6-1 lead.
Nanticoke Area closed out the 25-17 victory with a Luke Butczynski kill to complete the sweep and make school history.
The Trojans play defending PIAA Class AA champion Northeastern in the quarterfinals on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
Cardinal O’Hara 15 14 17—0 Nanticoke Area 25 25 25—3

Lukowski sets mark in Trojans' win
Citizens Voice

At Nanticoke Area, setter Ed Lukowski celebrated senior night by becoming the program's all-time assists leader in the Trojans' 3-0 win over North Pocono on Wednesday.
He had 30 assists, three kills and two blocks, bringing his career assists mark to 1, 543.
Brent Piontkowski added 18 kills and three aces.

Boys Volleyball Outlook
Returning Citizens’ Voice All-Stars
Ed Lukowski, Nanticoke Area
John Carr, Holy Redeemer
Rob Zbierski, Holy Redeemer (Coughlin in 2015)
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area

Coach: Debbie Gavin

2015 results: 12-4; defeated Crestwood, 3-2, in the District 2 Class AA third-place game; lost in first round of state playoffs, 3-2, to Archbishop Wood.

Players to watch: Seniors — Ed Lukowski, S; Brent Piontkowski, OH. Junior — Justin Casey, OH. Sophomore — Carlos Castillo, Lib.

Coach’s outlook: “We feel that we are solid on offense and defense. We will take one practice and one game at a time. Our long-term goal will be to make playoffs.”