ST. MARYS — After coming back from a game down less than two days prior, the Punxsy volleyball team saw its fortunes reverse on Saturday afternoon in the PIAA sub-regional playoffs in St. Marys.
After capturing wins in the first and third sets, the Lady Chucks found themselves with a 2-1 lead over the Eagles of Obama Academy.
The emotional toll, travel and short amount of down time caught up with the Punxsy roster as Obama Academy prevailed 25-19 in game four before winning the fifth contest and match, 15-10.
“Today just wasn't our day. I think that playing an emotional and physical 5-set match less than 48 hours ago really affected our ability to execute today,” noted Punxsy head coach Heather Good. “The girls were tired, which was particularly manifested in some of the mistakes we made. They were small errors, but they added up over the course of the match. By the end, we just didn't have it in us physically to close it out.”
"It's tough to turn around and play like that twice in two days.
Obama Academy had over a week to recover and prepare for today's matches, whereas both D-IX teams — us and Bradford — came off our championship match on Thursday. No excuses, but I think it made a difference for both our teams.”
The Lady Chucks started the afternoon with a 25-19 win in the first game. The Eagles evened the bout with a 25-22 win in the second affair. Punxsy (15-6) edged in front by a game when it won the third set, 25-17.
The short turnover of time effected the other District IX participant, Bradford, as well.
Somerset took the other sub-region semifinal 3-1 over Bradford before taking the title over Obama Academy to move onto the PIAA state playoffs.
“Our senior libero Chelsea (Engeholm) had a great game today. She passed well, and really gave it her all on the court,” pointed out Good. “Our other two seniors, Shayla (Brink) and Sydney (Weaver), also had good days, and all three should be proud of their accomplishments they had to finish their careers at Punxsutawney. It was their leadership that brought the District Championship plaque back to Punxsy.”
Engeholm paced the Lady Chucks with 22 digs on the defensive effort while lacing four service aces. Brink killed eight balls to go with four digs, two blocks and one ace.
Weaver belted a team-best 14 kills, dug 16 balls, blocked two attacks and lined an ace for her line.
“Today was disappointing, of course, but like I told the girls after the game, we met our goal for the season,” added the Punxsy coach. “In August, we set out to win a district championship, and we did that on Thursday night. Anything after that would have just been a little bit extra. We would have loved to come out with a win today, but it would have just been that little extra.”
Setter Ashley Reitz handed out 18 assists with four digs and an ace. Shaina Painter had 13 assists of her own with a kill and a dig. Emily Reitz and Sydney Phillips helped Engeholm on defense with 18 digs. Emily Reitz accounted for 11 digs, two aces and a kill.
Phillips served four aces to go with her seven digs. On the front line, Taylor Newcome contributed eight kills, eight digs and an assist. Bella Gallina added three kills, 1.5 blocks and a dig. Emilee States rounded out the Punxsy line with four digs, a block and a kill.
“Our season shirts read ‘hold the rope.’ That has been our saying all season. I told the girls after the game that holding the rope doesn't mean you win every game you step on the court to play,” said Good.
“Rather, holding the rope means that you were there for your teammates no matter what, that you gave it everything you had on the court, and left it all there at the end of the game. Today, that's what this team did. And because of that, they have nothing to hang their heads about.
“I am extremely proud of all the work these girls have put into this sport this season. It was an honor and a privilege for me to be able to work with these girls in my first season as a head coach,” concluded Good.
“I want to thank them and my assistant coaches, Tabi Bowers and Andrew Tygert, for making this season so great. I also want to thank the parents and fans that have supported these girls all through our season — without them, we wouldn't be where we are today.”