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November 9, 2013

Mission accomplished for Providence volleyball team

No. 1 Pioneers win first state championship in return trip to Muncie

MUNCIE — Nov. 3, 2012 was a heartbreaking day for the Providence volleyball team.

On that date at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena, the Pioneers lost in their first appearance in an IHSAA state championship match to Wapahani in the Class 2A state final, 22-25, 25-15, 25-6, 25-22.

Shortly after that gut-wrenching setback, the Providence players began an ambitious quest to return to Muncie and capture the program’s first-ever state championship.

Mission accomplished.

In their return to the Class 2A state championship match on Saturday at Worthen Arena, Class 2A No. 1 Providence concluded its year-long mission with a 25-18, 25-15, 25-20 victory over unranked Hammond Bishop Noll to claim the coveted state crown.

The Pioneers (36-4) did not drop a set during the entire state tournament. Plus out of the 21 postseason sets it played, Providence gave up 20 or more points just three times.

“Anything outside of this match was going to be a failure,” said Providence coach Terri Purichia, who guided her alma mater to the IHSAA State Finals for the fifth time in her Pioneers’ coaching tenure. “This group takes their goals very seriously and they were so determined. We knew that Bishop Noll was a very good team, and we felt like we knew the things that we needed to do in order to win. Outside of a couple of stretches here and there, we were able to do that.”

For the three Providence seniors — middle hitter Maile Daniel and defensive specialists Mary Kate Meyer and Abby Spitznagel — they ended their high school careers on the ultimate high note. Like the rest of their teammates, they will remember Saturday’s championship match for their entire lives.

“I just think it’s unfathomable. It’s definitely the best day of my life so far,” Meyer said. “This is going to be the highlight of my career. It’s awesome to be able to bring it back for such a dynasty at Providence and all the teams that have gone through it. This is all for them and for our families. It’s amazing.”

Daniel said her emotions were getting the best of her before the match even ended.

“I was crying before the game was even over. At [22-19 in the third set], I was balling my eyes out. It literally was so overwhelming walking off that court. I was so full of joy,” the 5-foot-10 senior said. “It’s a very indescribable feeling. It’s just amazing that I can experience this as a senior.”

Spitznagel, who won the Class 2A Mental Attitude Award, said her and her teammates have been thinking about redeeming themselves in the Class 2A state championship all season.

“In the back of our heads, this was our final destination,” Spitznagel said. “We worked for it every day. We knew this was going to be our final goal to achieve, and we just kept working for this moment right here. This is what we worked for in practice. It’s definitely unreal.”

Throughout the state tournament, Providence junior Taylor Wilson declared this was the year the Pioneers were going to win the state championship.

The 5-10 middle hitter backed up each word on Saturday with a fabulous performance. Wilson spiked a match-high 14 kills and made a match-high eight blocks. She was nearly unstoppable at the net as Bishop Noll had no answer for her. Plus Wilson got the job done in the serving department with a match-high 18 1/2 service points.

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