PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsy girls' volleyball players will find themselves in a familiar position tonight, as they'll play host to St. Marys for first-round action of District IX volleyball play.
The No. 2 seeded Lady Chucks put together a good enough season to earn a home game against the No. 3 Lady Dutch of St. Marys.
The Lady Chucks and
Lady Dutch had an instant classic match in St. Marys last time the two
"The last time we met with St. Marys, it was on their home court. We pulled out an exciting five-set win (22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 21-25, 15-10)," said head coach Heather Good. "Now, we get the chance to play them on our home court. We're ready for them."
Good said that while her team won the last meeting between the two teams, the girls didn't have their best game.
"We didn't play as well as I would have liked us to the last time we met. A few girls were just coming back from injury, and they weren't playing their game the way they are now," Good said. "Now that we have a full arsenal of strong, healthy athletes, I'm excited to see what our team can do against an opponent like St. Marys."
While assessing St. Marys, Good said the Lady Dutch like to attack from the outside, so defense is the key.
"St. Marys plays heavily to their outside attack. It will be important for us to get our block set up out there to give our defense the opportunity to get themselves in the correct position," Good said. "We have quick defenders, but if we don't have a block, they have a lot more of the court to cover than they should."
On Senior Night, the Lady Chucks honored six girls for their contributions to the program over their high school careers.
Not only do the ladies have another opportunity to play at home in front of the home fans, but they'll be able to use their experience to help the underclassmen, too.
But the postseason experience doesn't just end with the seniors.
No, the juniors were able to gain some valuable time on the court last year, as well.
"I think it's fantastic. Not only do we have seniors, but we also have juniors with experience," Good said. "A lot of the juniors practiced last year with us, and a few of them played in the championship game last year, so they experienced that. They know the intensity that comes with that. I think that will be an asset to us."
The intensity was felt last year, as Punxsy defeated Bradford in a five-game set for the District IX title, before falling to Obama Academy in regional play.
While a Punxsy-Bradford rematch could be just over the horizon, Good knows the importance of focusing on the task at hand.
"I want us to think about our first game. We have to think about getting through our first round of the districts," Good said. "I think it's important that we focus on one thing at a time."
Good's team has talent all over the court, which has been on display all season.
If all things are clicking, she's very confident that the team will be
able to come away with a victory tonight.
"We have a nice combination of athletes on this team. They have been working extremely hard in practice, and it is showing in the way they are playing," said Good. "They’ve gotten into that niche as a team, and it’s very exciting to see as a coach. If each girl on this team does her job and executes her role, we’ll be able to do great things on the court."
"Our defensive players, Emily Reitz, Sydney Phillips and Ivy Phillips, do a fantastic job in the back court and provide our setter, Ashley Reitz, with great passes to set up our hitters," said Good.
Setting the tone
"Ashley Reitz makes great decisions with her sets; she is always aware of what is happening on the other side of the court, and is in tune with her hitters to put the ball in their 'sweet spot,'" Good said.
Attack, attack, attack
Our attackers, Taylor Newcome, Shaina Painter, Emilee States, Bella Gallina and Hailey Brady, not only do a fantastic job providing power and punch to our attack, but they are also smart players," said Good.
"They are able to see where the openings are on the other side of the court and slip the balls through the blocks and past the defenders."
When asked what the keys to victory were not just in the first-round match, but throughout the playoffs, Good said the team needs energy, and
well, that's all.
"Energy, energy, energy, honestly. If we have energy, our skills follow," said Good. "They do well when they're confident. If they're confident in what they're doing, and they're confident when they get on the court, then they'll be fine. They should be confident. They're a good team."
No. 1 seed Bradford will face the winner of Cranberry/Karns City tonight.
The winner of that match will play the winner of Punxsy/St. Marys on Thursday for the District IX title.