BY HANSON CRAFTON
In one of the better games at Saturday’s Providence Early Bird Tournamment, the Silver Division’s final match saw host Class 2A No. 1 Providence squaring off with another very good team in Franklin.
From start to finish these two teams were neck-and-neck, giving the sense that whoever would win this match would have to earn it in all three sets.
Franklin prevailed 22-25, 25-21, 15-13 over the Pioneers in the tourney’s final round.
Providence got off to a really fast start owning plays at the net as Haley Libs and Taylor Wilson were blocking shots left and right and killing everything that Patricia Mattingly sent their way. Both ended with 6 blocks and Wilson slammed eight balls home while Libs chipped in with six kills of her own.
Maile Wilson had a good game, as well, with her five kills, three blocks and three assists. She did what she could to try and help her team pull out the victory.
Mattingly played an exceptional game, and as usual, controlled the Pioneer side of the net. She left her fingerprints all over the game with 22 assists, four blocks, three kills, two digs — and an ace for good measures. She also seemed make a play every time Providence most needed one, keeping her team in the game and never allowed her team to fall too far behind.
Even with good performances the Pioneers just couldn’t find a way to win the match. All three sets were very close and neither team ever got more than five points ahead of the other, but it was Franklin who limited their mistakes down the stretch and made the plays when they had to.
Providence never seemed overwhelmed or over-matched at any point during the last two sets, but they just couldn’t find a way to make a run when they needed it most, allowing Franklin to hold the most slender of leads all the way to the finish.
Although Providence didn’t get the win, Pioneer coach Terri Purichia had a very positive outlook from the contest.
“It was good competition, we needed to see that,” Purichia said. “This is our first time seeing competition that good. We needed to see what we need to fix to get better as the year goes forward.”
She said it was good for her team to see that the little things are the difference between a win and a loss when playing the highly competitive teams.
“We didn’t play as well as we would of liked to today,” she said. “We brought these teams in fully knowing any team could beat us and today they did.”
Purichia knows she still has a contending team, noting, “We’re not losing because we’re a bad team, but losing on things we can fix. I know we’ll get better.”
The Pioneers are back in action Tuesday as they hit the road to take on Henryville.