Coming out swinging: Punxsy sweeps DuBois
PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Lady Chucks avenged a five- set loss to DuBois earlier this season by bouncing back on their home court and sweeping the Lady Beavers in three sets, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20, Thursday evening in Punxsutawney.
From the beginning of the game, the Lady Chucks came out swinging with confidence and defending well when they needed to as Punxsy jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in Set No. 1 behind five service points by senior setter Cassie Cook.
During Cook's run, she recorded an ace, and Punxsy hitter Sydney Weaver recorded two blocks.
DuBois bounced back to tie it at six, and the teams exchanged side-outs to 20-20, but with DuBois serving, Punxsy's Shayla Brink hit a perfectly-placed cross-court spike to return serve to the Lady Chucks.
Punxsy senior Brooke Doney took over serving with the score tied at 22 and served three consecutive aces to wrap up the game for the Lady Chucks.
In addition to Doney's aces, Brink and Janie Depp-Hutchinson also recorded aces for Punxsy in the first game.
Brink and senior hitter Tori Martin also added timely hits for the Lady Chucks.
The second game, much like the first, was filled with long volleys and the teams exchanging serves until Brink went on a four-point rally to give the Lady Chucks some breathing room at 11-7.
After DuBois cut the gap and tied the game at 12, though, Depp-Hutchinson served six consecutive points to open the game up again.
During Depp-Hutchinson's rally, she had two aces, Taylor Newcome had a pair of kills, and Martin added another kill.
DuBois' Sam Snyder cut the lead to four points at 21-17, but Chelsea Engeholm scored three points, and after a pair of side-outs, Doney closed out the second set for the Lady Chucks, as well at 25-20.
Weaver had a pair of kills in the second set, while Brink recorded an ace, and Newcome notched a block.
Depp-Hutchinson put the Lady Chucks ahead to start the third set with a kill, and two points later went on a six-point streak that saw blocks by Weaver on three consecutive points and kills from Newcome and Martin.
On Punxsy's next serve, Weaver notched a six-point streak of her own, assisted by kills by Newcome, Martin and Brink to put Punxsy ahead 15-4.
Libero Kati Ramsey brought DuBois back within four points late in the game with a five-point run of her own, but Depp-Hutchinson took over again, running up four late points for the Lady Chucks to give them the breathing room they needed.
The deciding point ended on a serve by Weaver that forced a misplay on the Lady Beavers' part, and the Lady Chucks had redeemed themselves in convincing style.
"This was a big win for us," Punxsy head coach Lisa Kephart said after the game. "We really wanted it, and I thought that showed tonight. It went to five last time (in DuBois), and they won, so we wanted to bounce back and beat them at home tonight. And we did."
Kephart was pleased to see her team hitting the ball as confidently and powerfully as they did Thursday night.
"We had an awesome night hitting," she said. "Offensively, they just kept pounding the ball. They hit better than they have all season. And everyone played better; even our passing was on; everything went well."
Although Kephart said her entire team played incredibly well, she did note one individual achievement.
"Cassie Cook, our setter, had an awesome game," she said. "She was hustling and diving for the ball. It was just a phenomenal."
In the junior varsity contest, Punxsy made it a perfect night with a two-game sweep of the Lady Beavers, 25-21, 25-23.
Like the varsity squad, the JV Lady Chucks were aggressive at the net and had five different players record kills, led by Madison Neal and Nicole DiPietro led the Lady Chucks with four kills apiece, and Emilee States followed closely behind with three.
"I was really pleased with Nicole DiPietro, Maddy Neal and Emilee States' hits," Punxsy head coach Megan Decker said. "They played smart and aggressive."
Isabelle Gallina (2) and Hailey Brady (1) also recorded hits for Punxsy.
The first game was a back-and-forth contest with the teams matching each other point-for-point until Punxsy pulled ahead with Ivy Phillips' three-point run, and Emily Reitz's three-point run put the Lady Chucks ahead.
DuBois answered and tied the game at 19, though, before States put the Lady Chucks ahead for good with four points of her own.
Phillips capped the game off with an ace, and the Lady Chucks were one game from earning a victory.
The second game started much like the first, but with the score knotted at seven, DuBois went on a five-point run to open up a lead.
Punxsy trailed by as many as six before three points by States, including an ace, and four points by Emily Reitz, including two aces.
DuBois bounced back again to take a late 22-21 lead, but Punxsy's Sydney Phillips took over with the score tied and took the Lady Chucks to game point before the game ended on a side out with the final score 25-23.
"These were very close games, and the girls showed the passion and energy that I've been pushing for all season," Decker said after the game.
Decker was especially pleased with the play of Ivy Phillips, who stepped into the solo-setter role after an injury sidelined Punxsy's other setter, Ashley Reitz, earlier this week.
"Ivy has really stepped up," she said. "I'm very proud of her and the effort she is showing as she sets the whole way around."