Poison Ivy: Phillips paces Punxsy to win

PUNXSUTAWNEY— Coming off their first loss of the season and losing arguably their best server in Shaina Painter to an undisclosed injury, the Lady Chucks have had some recent adversity to face.

There's nothing that playing at the raucous Punxsy gym can't fix.

Punxsy welcomed Marion Center into town, and quickly showed them the door, shutting the Stingers out 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-12).

Ivy Phillips — an integral part of the team each match — stepped up her game with Painter's absence.

So much in fact, that before head coach Heather Good was even asked a question about Phillips, she said, "She played amazing tonight."

While Taylor Newcome and Bella Gallina had stellar serving performances in the third game, it was Phillips that paced the effort and filled in nicely as the top server for the Lady Chucks with Painter out.

"Yeah, I do," Phillips said when asked if she feels like she has to step her game up without Painter in the lineup.

For those familiar with basketball, there's always a sixth man on the team.

This player doesn't start, but provides a spark from the bench.

For the Lady Chucks, Phillips plays this role as the sixth (wo)man.

"I do whatever my coach needs me to do," Phillips said.

Good said that because of injuries, Phillips has been playing a different role, but playing it rather well.

"She's actually a setter for us. Ideally, I'd like to run what is called a 6-2 in a setting position with Ashley Reitz," Good said. "That would mean they would both share the setting responsibilities. With some key defensive players out, she's such a fantastic defensive player that I asked her to step into that position."

Phillips finished up the match 16-for-21 in her serves, which creates a headache for the opposition.

In fact, at least two times per home game this season, the opposing coach has called timeout when Phillips is serving, to try to get her out of her groove.

"Yeah, I notice it," Phillips said with a laugh. "Yeah it boosts my confidence a lot, actually. Every time I come off, I get back in and just tell myself that I need to get this serve in."

Good actually used the timeout technique in the second game, when Marion Center took a 17-13 lead off of a 7-1 run.

The tactic worked, as Punxsy subsequently had an 8-1 run of its own out of the break.

"That was a huge momentum shift. Our girls were kind of getting in a little bit of a rut there," Good said. "Sometimes, I call a timeout to allow the girls to collect themselves and move on to the next ball."

The girls moved on to the next ball and on to the next game.

The Lady Chucks were fresh off a loss last week to Altoona.

While no coach or team ever wants to lose, sometimes a loss can serve as a learning experience.

"You always learn from adversity. Losing only helps us to grow," Good explained. "Not that we like to lose, because we hate to lose. But it definitely helps us to grow."

Contributing in a big way to the offense was Reitz, with 23 sets in the game.

Newcome — as expected — led the team in kills with 14, and Emily Reitz led the team with 10 digs.

Punxsy returns to action tonight against DuBois Central Catholic.