By JON REITER
In an epic struggle between two of the area’s top teams heading towards the postseason, the Floyd Central girls’ volleyball team downed host Providence in five sets, 20-25, 25-14, 25-15, 23-25, 15-10.
“Providence has just been beating everyone, and beating some really outstanding competition,” said Bart Powell, coach of Class 4A No. 14 Floyd Central. “For us to come in here and beat them here in this kind of environment ... it’s a very big win for us.”
Things didn’t start off so well for the Highlanders against the Class 2A No. 2 Pioneers . Providence (18-4) jumped out to a 17-10 lead in the first set behind three kills from outside hitter Jacquie Hornung.
Floyd Central crept back in it and came to within four at 23-19, when Hannah Joly’s kill split two of Providence’s backline defenders, but kills by Hayley Libs and Hornung sandwiched a Providence net violation and the Pioneers captured the first set, 25-20.
Providence was uncharacteristically blown out of the ensuing two games, 25-14 and 25-16. During those two games, the Pioneers had difficulty reading the Floyd Central service of hitter Jordan Alvey, who had eight of her 10 service aces in those two games, and hitting through 6-foot-3 freshman middle hitter Gwyn Jones, who notched seven of her game-high nine blocks during that timeframe.
Providence would battle back. Behind sophomore outside hitter Taylor Wilson and Libs, who combined for eight kills in the fourth game, the Pioneers jumped out to an 11-6 lead and held off a late Floyd Central charge to capture the fourth set, 25-23.
A kill from Wilson ended it and sent the match to a fifth and deciding game.
“To counteract what they were doing to us, we had to do pretty much the same thing they were doing to us,” Providence coach Terri Purichia said. “So we picked things up on the serving end, and we passed better in set four, and most of set five.
In the deciding fifth set, a kill from Hornung narrowed the margin to 11-10, but kills from Alvey and Sydney Engle widened the gap, and a net violation by Providence ended it at 15-10.
For Purichia, the loss was disappointing, but not overly so.
She said she was pleased with how her squad fought back and pushed the Highlanders (19-9) to five sets, particularly considering how they performed in the second and third.
“I’m really proud of the girls for hanging in there, because the second and third [sets] we were embarassed. They could have just ... been done with it, but they fought back,” she said.
“They are a good team, and we knew they were going to fight back,” Powell said. “For us to have a 7-3 lead [in the fifth set- and to have them come back once again ... those last five points were really hard for us to win. Proud of us for getting them.”
There is no rest for either squads is on the horizon, even leading to next week’s sectional play.
Tonight Providence travels to face Class 4A No. 3 Columbus East, while Floyd Central heads to Class 3A No. 4 Brownstown Central on Thursday.
“I don’t know how Terri feels, but I know we’ve both been facing tough teams all year round. No reason that has to stop now,” Powell said.