Lady Chucks make it to Slippery Rock semis

SLIPPERY ROCK — The Punxsutawney Lady Chucks volleyball squad headed to Slippery Rock Saturday to play in an all-day tournament. The Lady Chucks made it all the way to the semi-finals before being knocked off by Knoch.

The varsity squad began in pool play, playing each team to 25 twice.

It started with Karns City, which it beat 25-11 in the first game but then lost 25-21.

"We started off the day strong," Punxsy head coach Lisa Kephart said. "Everyone played together really well, and there was exceptional blocking and passing through the first set. ... We were still playing hard in the second set of the match but had a few minor errors."

The Lady Chucks then moved on to face Moniteau, during which Cassie Cook had seven successful serves in a row. Punxsy beat Moniteau twice in a row, 25-13 and 25-21.

The squad then faced Union, and once again, it won both matches, 25-23 and 25-15. Kephart said the match was highlighted by the play of libero Chelsea Engeholm and defensive specialist Brooke Doney.

"Our team worked very well together, and we got to make some nice plays," Kephart said.

The Lady Chucks fourth match of the day was against host-team Slippery Rock, and it was the first meet in which Punxsy lost both. Slippery Rock won 25-18 and 25-17.

"Even though we fell to Slippery Rock, we went strong against a good team," Kephart said. "We made a few errors, but most of the points given were on good attacks by them."

After four games of pool play, the Lady Chucks then played in the tournament playoffs during which they faced each team once to 25, until the semi-final round, in a single-elimination style of play.

Punxsy's first playoff opponent was Neshannock, which it beat 25-21.

The team then moved on to beat Hickory, 25-18. Kephart said that outside hitters Taylor Newcome and Shayla Brink were All-Stars for the squad during the playoff matches.

"We never let up," Kephart said. "All of the hitters did an excellent job, considering most of the teams we played had some really good blocks up."

During the semi-finals, the Lady Chucks faced Knoch in a best-of-three series, and this is where they finally met their downfall. Knoch only needed two games to beat Punxsy, 25-18 and 25-17.

"Knoch was a really great team," Kephart said. "We played strong all day, and I couldn't have been more proud." Despite losing in the semi-finals, Kephart said she was very happy with the way the day played out overall.

"Taking fourth in a tournament like this is a real accomplish," Kephart said. "There were a lot of good teams, and we showed that we can hang with any of them."

The Lady Chucks will play a head-to-head match at 6 p.m. today as they host the Ridgway Lady Elkers.