By CHRIS STONER
Providence was put to the test Wednesday night at Silver Creek but the Pioneers showed why they are the favorites in the south to return to the state finals in 2013.
The Pioneers won a hotly-contested match over the Dragons, in a sweltering Dragons gymnasium, 25-19, 27-25, 25-14.
The visitors took advantage of three early Silver Creek service errors to bolt to a 10-5 lead in the opening set. The Dragons quickly battled back with a 5-2 spurt highlighted by a Liz Mann kill to pull within 12-10.
The Pioneers responded with an 8-3 outburst fueled by two service points from Mary Kate Meyer and two kills by Haley Libs to grab a commanding 20-13 advantage. The Creekers formulated one last run with four straight points, including an ace from Madi Miemann, to make it 20-17.
Libs, however, would have the final say in the first set with an ace and another kill down the stretch to mark a 25-19 Providence win.
The second set was the showcase of the night, featuring seven ties and numerous long rallies that had the crowd on its feet.
Providence jumped to a 7-4 lead after a Maile Daniel kill. The Dragons rallied quickly with a 5-2 run, capped by a Morgan Reining kill, to pull within 10-9.
Two straight service points from Jacquie Hornung and a huge block from Taylor Wilson gave the Pioneers a little breathing room with a 17-14 lead. Creek responded with their best stretch of the match. The home team proceeded to put together a 9-3 spurt powered by five straight service points from Nieman for a 23-20 lead.
However, the Dragons’ first and only service error of the set opened the door for a Providence set-ending 7-2 run for a 27-25 win.
Providence rode the momentum from its comeback the second-set win and cruised to a 25-14 game three victory.
Libs slammed down four kills, seven consecutive service points, and an ace in the final set to push Providence to the three-set sweep road victory in its season opener.