By AMANDA FRENCH
The Providence Pioneers came away from Henryville on Saturday with another volleyball sectional title after a win over Eastern, 25-17, 25-12, 25-11.
“I feel so excited,” Terri Purichia, Providence head coach said. “This team has been a dream to coach. I am very proud of them.”
The No. 2 Pioneers, who won their 27th sectional title in school history — tied for sixth in Indiana — will host Southwestern in the first round of the Forest Park Regional on Tuesday.
In the first set in Saturday’s championship, the Pioneers came out hungry and Eastern held on. Within minutes of the first set ending, with a score of 21-13, Eastern scored a few points due to a handful of Providence missed kills.
The Pioneers started strong again in the second set, making the score 5-1 early on. Eastern had some good blocking attempts, but Providence trudged on with a seven-point lead at 17-10 when the Pioneers made some unsuccessful blocks, but ultimately the Pioneers prevailed.
The third set was a runaway for the Pioneers, thanks to strong play by Providence and some careless mistakes by the Musketeers.
Eastern head coach Lisa Roberts said anytime they play Providence, it is a challenge for them.
“Overall I was pleased with their effort,” Roberts said of her team.
“We kept the momentum going,” Providence sophomore middle hitter Taylor Wilson said. We didn’t let them get points that were unnecessary.”
Top performers for the Pioneers include Taylor Wilson, middle hitter with eight kills and two aces. Haley Libs, outside hitter, had 11 kills, five digs and two aces. Jacquie Hornung, an outside hitter, had eight kills.
“I felt that everyone contributed and did their part,” Purichia said. “I think everybody has a role on this team and when we get everyone of the team to contribute, they are really hard to stop.
“Our serving game was good. We put a lot of pressure on them.”
As they prepare for regional play, Purichia said she’s not worried about her team. In fact, for such a young team, Purichia said, the Pioneers’ focus has improved throughout the season.
“They have shown they are very capable of focus. The characteristic that I love about this team is that they are gritty. They fight,” Purichia said.
“I think we will need a lot of intensity, touch serves and great passes,” Wilson said of the regional.
Earlier in the day, the Pioneers pounced Paoli, 25-11, 25-15, 25-18 to advance to the championship match.
Eastern eliminated Henryville, 24-26, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22 in the other semifinal on Saturday morning.
Kerri Cochran led the Hornets with 12 kills. Courtney Rappe added 10 kills, six aces and four blocks. Haley Huddleston had a Henryville-best 21 assists and Chelsea Lamotte finished with 17. Jasmine Harrell led the Hornets with 32 digs.