Middle school VB getting in the swing of things

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Lady Chucks middle school volleyball team opened its season last Thursday against Brockway and continued Tuesday afternoon against the Lady Beavers of DuBois.

Last Thursday, the eighth-grade squad defeated the Lady Rovers to start the season off on the right foot.

In the first game, Punxsy picked up a win behind Emma White's eight aces, including one on game point to seal the game.

"Overall, it was just a really good game," Punxsy head coach Megan Decker said. "Emma's serves were really good, and that definitely helped."

Punxsy also won the second game, with four different Lady Chucks picking up aces from behind the service line.

Morgan Doverspike led the way with three in the game, followed by two each by White, Laurel Szymanski and Taylor Cary.

Doverspike also had a nice hit for a kill, and Decker said she had a really solid second game.

In the third game against the Lady Rovers, Punxsy's serving was again dominant, with three Lady Chucks recording aces.

Hope Bridge recorded four consecutive aces in a seven-point run to lead the way to the Lady Chucks' sweep.

Shaylee Kennedy followed closely with three on a pair of runs — the first a three-pointer and the second five.

White also had two aces in the third game for an impressive 12 on the day, and she added a kill to her total, as well.

"We did really well, and I thought Shaylee had a great serving game," Decker said. "We also communicated very well."

Unfortunately for the Lady Chucks eighth-graders, they met a difficult DuBois squad with some impressive servers of its own Tuesday night in Punxsutawney and were swept by the Lady Beavers.

Punxsy would have played right with DuBois if not for a lengthy run by the Lady Beavers in each game.

In the first, it was DuBois' Rachel Ball who rattled off a 10-point rally after an initial side out before Punxsy managed to get its first point on the board.

Decker thought the quick DuBois start may have put her team on its heels. The Lady Chucks bounced back, though, and played even with DuBois for the majority of the remainder of the game to settle with a 25-10 score.

Two areas that were definite strengths for Punxsy against Brockway last week were areas Decker said she looks to continue to improve with her team in practice this week: Serving and communication.

"We didn't talk as well today as we did last week, and we didn't serve as well," she said. "But those are things we'll keep working on."

In the second game, Punxsy had to weather a nine-point run by the Lady Beavers and a five-point run, and the Lady Beavers cruised to a 25-16 win.

A cross-court kill by Bridge was the highlight of Punxsy's offense, as she painted the line.

Lexie Smathers and Ivy Ferko each had an ace for the Lady Chucks in the game, as well.

Punxsy played evenly, exchanging side outs with the Lady Beavers, in the first half of the third game, but DuBois pulled away late. One thin g was a marked improvement, though, as the Lady Chucks didn't allow any runs of more than three points in the 25-17 third-set loss.

MiKeelee Brink led Punxsy's offensive attack with a pair of kills with the game knotted at 10 and 11, and White added a kill, as well.

In seventh-grade action, Punxsy was also defeated in both of its games, but the scores were very close after DuBois opened up early leads in each contest.

In the first game, the Lady Beavers jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Punxsy got on the board, but the Lady Chucks battled back with three aces by Alli Lunger and one by Alli Ishman in the midst of a five-point rally leading the way.

A late-game, four-point rally by Lunger tied the contest at 18, and Morgan VanLeer added an ace to tie it at 20 later. But the Lady Beavers finished on a 5-1 run to earn a 25-21 victory in the first game.

In the second, DuBois' serving dominated from the start, and Punxsy found itself in a 10-6 hole. The Lady Chucks battled back, though, and another four-point rally by Ishman gave Punxsy the lead at 17-16.

DuBois earned a few hard-fought points, though, and ended up edging the Lady Chucks, 25-23.

Overall, Punxsy head coach Jacque Curtis said she has been pleased with her team's performance at the games and in practice so far this year.

"The girls are doing well, and they never give up," she said. "They always give me 100 percent, and that's all I can ask of them."

The Lady Chucks will return to action this coming weekend at Saturday's Curwensville Tournament.