By JON REITER
Since the No. 1 2A Providence volleyball squad lost a three-set match to Class 4 No. 9 Columbus East in the school’s annual Early Bird Tournament on Sept. 7, the Pioneers had last night’s home revenge matchup against the Olympians circled on their calendar.
Providence’s revenge dish was served up cold, as it became only the second state-ranked team to defeat Columbus East (21-9) — and did so in impressive fashion, 25-22, 25-19, 25-19.
“We played very well tonight and we’ve been waiting on this for five weeks,” Providence (29-4) coach Terri Purchia said.
“When we faced them the first time, we didn’t play them as well as we were capable of, and it didn’t sit very well with this team. We wanted a rematch, and we were very focused on that tonight.”
The win over Columbus East gives the Pioneers, considered to be the favorites to win the 2A state championship, considerable momentum — and evidence — that they can reach those heights. It’s back to practice for Providence, who will host Henryville in opening-round sectional play on Thursday.
Povidence had all their weapons on display last night at the Robert L. Larkin Center, as hitters Haley Libs (16), Taylor Wilson (14) and Jacquie Hornung (10) all registered double-digits in kills. The Pioneers also converted 9 service aces.
They held a 24-20 lead in the first set but Columbus East kills from Carly Robertson and Katie Mack brought the Olympians to within two at 24-22. A kill from Wilson off a set from setter Patricia Mattingly ended it.
The Pioneers closed more impressively in the second set. It was tied at 19 when, behind the service of outside hitter Maddie Bivens, Providence closed the set with six consecutive points, including two service aces from Bivens, that resulted in the final two points of the set.
“Closing games out is something we work really hard on in practice. We try not to go back in forth, and when we have the opportunity to do it, we’ve learned to really go after it,” said senior outside hitter Mailey Daniel, who notched 5 kills.
The third set went in similar fashion for Providence. After falling behind 6-5 to the Olympians — following a kill from freshman hitter Cortney VanLiew — consecutive kills from Libs and a block by Mattingly and Daniel on Carly Robertson gave Providence an 8-6 lead. Following another Libs kill, Olympians coach Faith Wilder-Newland called a timeout, but Columbus East trailed throughout the rest of the third set.
A kill from Libs finished it at 25-19.
The raucous Providence crowd erupted at the close of the third set and gave high-fives and congratulations to their squad, who finished the regular season having won 16 out of their last 17 matches.
Providence’s three seniors, Daniel, Mary Kate Meyer and Abby Spitznagel, where honored on senior night. Following last season’s state runner-up finish, they acknowledged their goal of finishing the job this season.
“It’s going to be high intensity this next week [focusing on Henryville],” Spitznagel said. “We have to focus on them because the state finals is three weeks away.”
“It’s one game at a time. You can’t win the next one until you win the one you’re playing,” Meyer said.
COLUMBUS EAST 22 19 19
PROVIDENCE 25 25 25
Providence: Patricia Mattingly 37 assists, 4 kills, 4 blocks; Haley Libs 16 kills, 2 blocks; Taylor Wilson 14 kills, 5
blocks; Jacquie Hornung 10 kills; Maddie Bivens 4 aces; Carlie Combs 5 kills; Mailey Daniel 5 kills.
Columbus East: Faith Myers 11 kills, 22 assists; Carly Robertson 14 kills; 3 blocks; Cortney VanLiew 9 kills.