All in a day's work: Punxsy 2nd overall

ST. MARYS — The Lady Chucks junior varsity volleyball team traveled to the home of the Elk County Catholic Crusaders for their volleyball tournament Saturday and put on an impressive show. Punxsy went 11-1 in pool play and finished second overall in the tournament.

The Lady Chucks opened pool play against Redbank earning two close victories, 25-20, 25-20. Punxsy head coach Megan Decker said it was a "sleepy, early game," and her team members didn't communicate as much as they usually do, but they did finish strong to earn the win.

Alyssa Reitz started a strong day's serving by leading the Lady Chucks with five service points in the first game and equally as strong serves in the second.

Bella Gallina shone late for the Lady Chucks, earning kills at the net for Punxsy's final three points in the set.

In the second set, Punxsy faced Johnsonburg and won more easily 25-15, 25-15.

Nicole DiPietro started the game off with a kill, and Decker said that pumped the girls up. Reitz followed with a nine point serving streak, including five aces.

Decker also said her squad played well from the net in the second game, with Gallina, Maddy Neal and Jensen Constantino all earning impressive kills.

Sydney Phillips and Emily Reitz had eight service points with three and two aces, respectively.

In the third set of pool play, the Lady Chucks faced off against a new opponent in Venango Catholic and won both again, 25-18, 25-17.

Emilee States and Hailey Brady covered the net well, and Alyssa Reitz and Ivy Phillips had another great serving set, Decker said.

Set No. 4 was all Punxsy, as well, as the Lady Chucks defeated the Lady Elkers of Ridgway 25-18, 25-17.

Alyssa Reitz started the game with eight consecutive service points, including five more aces, and Emily Reitz added three aces of her own.

Decker said States and Shaina Painter played well at the net, and Ivy Phillips ended the game with an ace.

Punxsy met its toughest opponent in the Lady Owls of Bradford in the fifth set.

Punxsy lost its only game in pool play in Game No. 1, 18-25, but bounced back in the second game for a 25-17 win and a split with the Lady Owls.

"We made a lot of silly mistakes but picked it up in the second game," Decker said.

Sydney Phillips had a nice serving run in the middle of the game to get the girls pumped up, Decker said.

Punxsy ended pool play with a pair of 25-16 wins over the tournament host, ECC.

"Our serving was great yet again," Decker said. "And we really talked well during this game. We had great digs from our defenders, Alyssa Reitz and Emily Reitz."

Decker also said that Painter added some impressive serves, including an ace to end the game.

With the two-game sweep over ECC, the Lady Chucks were granted a bye in the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

They opened the playoffs against Ridgway and won their opening round best-of-three in two games (25-20, 25-21) with "great serves, great passes, great sets and great hits," Decker said. "We just played so well together that everyone complemented everyone else. The girls were so excited to make it to the championship against West Branch, and I was so proud of them."

In the best-of-three championship round, Punxsy was edged out in the first game 26-24 by West Branch and couldn't quite bounce back falling in the second game 25-19 to finish runner-up.

"Although the girls lost this game, they played so well," Decker said. "West Branch was a very good team, and we kept right with them. We made them play and gave them some competition. We finished second, and I couldn't have been more proud of these girls."

Decker also added that the Lady Chucks were cheered on by Ashley Reitz, who has missed playing time lately due to a concussion.

Painter stepped into Reitz's role as a setter and did what Decker called "an amazing job."

"She and Ivy Phillips hustled and did a great job all day," she said. "Every single girl on this team did well. It is a young team, and this is our second tournament of the year, and we placed at both of them.

"Watching the girls have fun and enjoying playing the game is a great reminder of why I do what I do."

The Lady Chucks, junior varsity and varsity, host Curwensville in a 6 p.m. JV start tonight with the varsity to follow.