Lady Chucks finding momentum at the right time

NEW BETHLEHEM — Despite falling in their first set against Redbank Valley, the Lady Chucks bounced back to win three straight sets and earn a four-game victory — their fourth in victory in a row — 22-25, 25-14, 28-26, 25-22, in New Bethlehem Monday.

The junior varsity squad stayed true to form and won its matchup with the Lady Bulldogs in two sets, 25-14, 25-16.

In the varsity game, it was the Lady Bulldogs who earned the first set victory, edging out Punxsy in a back-and-forth contest, 25-22.

"The girls were off to a slow start but started to pick it up as we went along," Punxsy head coach Lisa Kephart said Monday after the game. "The slowness came from a lack of communication on the court, causing us to miss chances at good plays."

Despite the first-set loss, the Lady Chucks' offense was putting numbers on the board, earning five kills. The defense picked up four blocks, as well.

Shayla Brink was strong from both sides of the ball, with a dig and three blocks to go along with her two kills.

Tori Martin, Sydney Weaver and Taylor Newcome each added a kill for the Lady Chucks, and seniors Brooke Doney and Cassie Cook chipped in with three digs apiece. Doney added an ace, and Cook had an assist on all five Punxsy kills.

The Lady Chucks bounced back from their early letdown to win the second set convincingly, 25-14.

Janie Depp-Hutchinson led the way in the serving department for the Lady Chucks with two aces, and Doney and Chelsea Engeholm added one each.

Weaver had two kills to go along with three digs on Lady Bulldog spikes.

The third set required extra points to settle it after the teams were tied at 24, but four points later, Punxsy finished off Redbank to earn the 2-1 set lead with a 28-26 final.

Cook had two aces and four assists to lead Punxsy in the set, while Weaver continued her all-around game with a dig, three blocks, an ace and a kill in the set.

Brink added two kills, and Newcome had one of her own, while Engeholm and Doney added digs defensively.

The fourth set was another close one, but the Lady Chucks pulled away late to earn a 25-22 victory and seal the match with their third set, 25-22.

Cook had eight assists, setting up Newcome for four kills and Martin for three in an offensive attack that proved to be the difference.

Weaver earned a kill and a block, and four different Lady Chucks — Doney, Cook, Depp-Hutchinson and Brink — each recorded an ace to aid the victory.

"We did what we needed to as a team to pull out the win," Kephart said.

In the junior varsity contest, although her team "started slow and ended a bit sloppy" in the first set, Punxsy head coach Megan Decker said they "played well in the middle to get a nice lead," and the Lady Chucks ended up sweeping Redbank Valley in two games, 25-14, 25-16.

In the first set, Ashley Reitz's dominant serving continued for the Lady Chucks, as she earned five aces — four of which were in a row — to give Punxsy a nice lead it would not surrender.

Decker also noted the play of her setter-hitter duo of Ivy Phillips, who she said "hustled and made some nice sets." Emilee States led the Lady Chucks in the first set with two kills.

Set No. 2 was a bit more cohesive for the Lady Chucks. Decker said her team was "talking more and playing smart."

"We had a few rough spots trying to finish our plays, but the girls got a handle on it and got some nice kills," she said.

States had two kills again for Punxsy, but Shaina Painter matched her total, while Bella Gallina had one kill. States' serving was also strong, and she added a block at the net.

"We stepped it up when it mattered and came out with the win," Decker said. "Sometimes having to work that much harder makes you appreciate the win that much more."

Next on the Lady Chucks' slate is another road game Thursday at DuBois Central Catholic before beginning the District IX playoffs next week.