PUNXSUTAWNEY — In one of the most intense regular season volleyball matches of the season, Redbank Valley outlasted Punxsy, 18-16 in the fifth and deciding match. The Lady Chucks held a 2-1 game lead only to see the Lady Bulldogs take the next two for the victory Monday night in Punxsutawney.
Redbank started the night taking a tight first game, 25-23. Punxsy rallied back to take games two and three by the same 25-22 and 25-22 finals. The Lady Bulldogs scored 10-straight points twice in a decisive game four, 25-14. The two teams went into extra points in the deciding fifth game before a tip down off a Punxsy overpass hit the floor for the Redbank Valley, 18-16, win and 3-2 match victory.
"We fought very hard tonight. Redbank just came out on top — it couldn't have been any closer with the fifth game going 18-16," explained Lady Chucks coach Heather Good. "This type of game is only going to make us fight harder in the playoffs next week."
Defensive specialist Chelsea Engeholm produced her season-best 25-dig effort on the night. She added one kill on her stat line.
"Senior captain Chelsea Engeholm stepped up at the end of the game and gave the team a great perspective on the night," noted Good. "She said, 'They may have come out with the victory, but we came out with a win.' She focused us in on our attitudes and intensity, and gave us all something to be proud of."
Joining Engeholm on the defense was Sydney Weaver. The senior middle hitter dug 25 balls of her own to go with a team-high 13 kills, two blocks and an assist.
Sydney Phillips chipped in 12 digs and three aces and Emily Reitz contributed 10 digs and an ace to complete the Lady Chucks' back row.
Taylor Newcome downed 11 kills, bumped 13 digs, blocked an attack and had one assist. Shayla Brink also had a good front line game with 10 kills, 13 digs and three aces.
Emilee States chipped in five kills, seven digs and a block. Bella Gallina rounded out the front row with two kills, four digs and a block.
Setter Ashley Reitz finished with 21 assists, seven digs and three aces. Shaina Painter added seven assists, two digs and a block assist.
As was the case in the close match all evening, the two teams split the first 20 points of the fifth game, 10-10. The tight match-deciding game continued and remained at 14-14 on a ball Redbank pushed out of bounds.
Punxsy (12-6) survived back-to-back match points. A Weaver and States combo block saved them the first time, and a Weaver kill knotted the match, 16-16, on the second one.
The Lady Chucks could not return the ball over the net on their following serve to fall behind, 16-17. The Lady Bulldogs ended the marathon on the next point when a front row player tipped the ball to the floor on a home team over pass for the 18-16 game and 3-2 match win.
Redbank spurted out to a 14-9 lead midway through the opening game. Trailing 11-15, Punxsy netted six-straight points to pull ahead 17-15 behind three Weaver kills and an Ashley Reitz ace.
The lead would be short lived as the Lady Bulldogs tied the game three times at 20, 22 and 23 — all before putting up the final two for the 25-23 game one win.
Behind most of game two, the Lady Chucks rallied for the late contest tie at 16-16 on a Brink tip point.
Tied at 17-17, Punxsy scored the next four points capped by a Brink ace and Newcome kill off the Redbank block on the way to a 25-22 game two win.
In game three, Punxsy led 6-5 before seeing three of five-straight points come from Newcome to pull in front 10-5.The lead continued to be five points through Brink's tip down the line at 18-13.
At 19-15, the Lady Bulldogs scored four points in a row off two aces before making a service error for a 20-19 Lady Chucks margin. Tied at 21-21 apiece, Punxsy was able to go in front two games to one after a Redbank tip went out of bounds for the 25-22 game three win.
The fourth contest could not start much better for the home team. Ashley Reitz served five-straight points. After a point to each side and 6-1 score, Redbank put 10 tallies in a row on the board to take the biggest momentum swing of the match, 11-6.
A Newcome kill pulled Punxsy to within two at 11-9. Redbank responded with a second big run of 10 points to blow open a big lead, 21-9 before it went on for the 25-14 win to set up the match-deciding fifth game.
Punxsy was able to pull out another hard fought match in the junior varsity bout. The Lady Chucks garnered game wins of 26-24 and 25-19 for the two-game sweep.
After falling behind by at least six points in the opening game, the Lady Chucks bounced back. Trailing 24-21, Punxsy served out the first contest with five points and 26-24 final.
"We showed our resiliency in the first game and played with a lot of heart," said JV coach Tabi Bowers.
Punxsy scored the second game's first 11 points to pull out the match win of 25-19.
Kassi Niver highlighted the junior varsity effort with five aces and five digs.
Punxsy will complete its regular season with Senior Night on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. when it hosts DuBois Central.