Varsity falls in home opener, JV picks up win

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsy girls' volleyball team lost its home opener to Ridgway in three games Tuesday night in Punxsutawney.

Ridgway jumped out to an early 16-7 lead in the first game, forcing Punxsy to take a timeout.

Punxsy bounced back after the timeout, and Chelsea Engeholm went on a serving run. By the time it was over, Punxsy trailed by just four points, 18-14.

Ridgway answered back with a run of its own, though, and went on to take the first game, 25-18.

Ridgway's hot streak continued in the second game, and the Lady Elkers rolled to a 13-3 lead before Punxsy head coach Lisa Kephart again used a timeout to stop the momentum.

After the timeout, Punxsy forced a sideout, and Janie Depp-Hutchinson went on a five-point scoring run.

The teams traded serves for several points before the Elkers were forced to use a timeout of their own after a three-point mini-streak by Brooke Doney.

Punxsy came within three points on Sydney Weaver's serve, forcing a second timeout by Ridgway with the score 24-21, but the rally came up short again, and the game ended at 25-21.

In the third game, Doney sprung the Chucks to a 4-1 lead, serving behind some impressive kills and blocks by Weaver.

"Sydney had a really great game hitting middle for us tonight," Kephart said. "Whenever she hit the ball, she hit it down and hard, and they couldn't defend it."

The third contest was a back-and-forth match, with Punxsy leading halfway through, 13-11, and managing to tie the score at 14.

Ridgway put a few points on the board, and Punxsy tried to slow the game down again with another timeout, but it didn't work this time.

Ridgway's late run turned out to be too much, and it went on to win 25-19 to clinch the best-of-five contest.

"I think for our first home game, we had some jitters going on," Kephart said. "But I really think we played together as a team, and we were all hustling after the ball. They had a really strong middle hitter who we just couldn't beat. I basically think she won that game for them."

Despite the loss, Kephart was glad to see her girls remain positive.

"The girls had a really positive attitude for the most part," she said. "Given the circumstances of losing their first home game, I thought they were great."

She saw lots of positives from her team on the court, as well.

"It was a good team effort," she said. "We hustled, served well and hit the ball when-ever we needed to. We just made some errors on defense that hurt us a bit."

The junior varsity squad won its best-of-three match against Ridgway two games to none.

Punxsy started off fairly slowly, giving Ridgway six points right off the bat, but Maddie Neal got things started with a hit, and Alyssa Reitz scored five points to get the ball rolling.

Aces from Reitz, Emily Reitz, Ivy Phillips, Sydney Phillips and Ashley Reitz catapulted Punxsy into the lead, where it would remain, winning 25-12.

"We had a great serving game," Punxsy coach Megan Decker said. "Neal, Nicole DiPietro and Shaina Painter were aggressive at the net to help us finish with a win."

Game 2 started off strong for the Lady Chucks when Alyssa Reitz, Emily Reitz and Ivy Phillips went on another serving streak, as well.

Punxsy never looked back after the strong start and went on to win 25-15 to end the match.

"We were moving and playing as a team really well," Decker said. "The girls got their first-game jitters out and really proved how badly they wanted the win. It was a great start to the season."

Punxsy's next match will be another home match Thursday against Brockway.