FLOYDS KNOBS — Tournament favorite Providence got off to a good start with a 25-12, 25-5, 25-13 sweep of Jennings County in the first round of the Class 4A Floyd Central Sectional tournament on Thursday night.
“I think we played well. We had a good night,” Providence coach Terri Purichia said. “A good opening match.”
In the other first-round matchup, Seymour swept Jeffersonville in a close match, 25-21, 28-26, 25-18. The Red Devils ended their season at 17-14.
Though disappointed with the season’s finish, first-year Jeff coach Wes Briscoe said “we’re happy we got on the winning side [of the record].”
The third-ranked Pioneers (26-1), who have won eight straight sectional titles, face the host Highlanders (19-12) at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by New Albany (17-14) against Seymour (17-16) at 1 p.m. The final is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday night.
The Panthers were able to get an early lead on the Pioneers in the first set. Providence worked its way to a 6-5 lead after a kill by senior middle hitter Maggie Purichia and led the rest of the set.
Leading 13-7, Providence had gotten kills from six different players. An ace by junior outside hitter Ali Hornung made it 14-7 and the Pioneers were cruising.
It was 22-12 when Providence got a pair of kills by junior outside hitter Lydia Rush that paced the Pioneers to a 25-12 first-set win.
After a slow start in the first set, the Pioneers started fast in the second and ran out to an 8-1 lead. With the Panthers looking to stay in it, a pair of kills by senior outside hitter Courtney Glotzbach and a pair of aces by junior setter Emma Kaelin led Providence to a 17-2 lead. A kill by Glotzbach made it 19-4 and the Pioneers were on their way to a 25-5 second set win.
“We’re very focused, self-motivated,” coach Purichia said of her team. “And we try to give them many goals within the match.”
Jennings County tried to extend its season in the third set, staying close early on. Providence led 6-4 when a kill by Rush sparked a 6-0 run by the Pioneers. Junior outside hitter Anna Purichia had a kill and a block during the run as Providence pulled out to a 12-4 lead.
Jennings County kept fighting and it was 16-10, but the Pioneers' service and frontline were more than the Panthers could handle. A pair of aces by Maggie Purichia helped Providence to a 21-11 lead en route to a 25-13 triumph in the third.
Glotzbach finished with 11 kills while Ceci Rush had eight digs. Kaelin added 21 assists and senior Brynna Walthers had three aces.
The first set was tight early on and tied 13-13 at the midway point. After that, Seymour went on a 9-3 run to take control, leading 22-16. A kill by Jeffersonville senior middle hitter Hannah Thibideau made it 22-17 and looked to give the Red Devils the momentum. However the Owls wouldn’t fold and won the first set 25-21.
“We weren’t mentally tough in a lot of spots,” Briscoe said.
The second set was close throughout. An ace by senior outside hitter Jenna Lake tied it a 4-4 before the Owls went on a run to lead 9-6.
The Red Devils, playing from behind, fought back. A block by Thibideau and sophomore outside hitter Elliot Mays cut the deficit to 11-10. Kills by senior outside hitter Alayna Lacy and Lake helped tie it at 18 before the Red Devils took a 19-18 lead with an ace by Lacy.
It was tied at 20 when a pair of kills by Thibideau and a kill by Lake helped the Red Devils get to set point, leading 25-24. But service errors by both teams extended the match before Seymour won it 28-26 for a two-set lead.
The Red Devils got off to a fast start in the third set. A kill by Lake was part of a 5-2 lead early on. A kill by Mays put Jeff up 7-3 before the Owls fought back to tie it at 7.
It was 9-9 when kills by Lacy and sophomore middle hitter Taylor Shelton helped the Red Devils to a slim lead before the Owls re-took it. A kill by Lacy tied it at 13, then Seymour surged to a 21-14 lead.
The Red Devils wouldn’t quit, cutting the deficit to five (23-18), but the comeback, the match and the Jeff season ended with a 25-18 Seymour win.
Lake finished with 10 kills while Thibideau and Lacy tallied seven each. Freshman Alyvia Luce had 16 digs while Lacy had 10 to go along with 11 assists. Freshman Abby Dues added 12 assists.
While the Red Devils' season came to an end, Briscoe and his staff are already thinking about the next step.
“We’ve done a good job establishing what we expect from our players,” he said.