Providence players celebrate their 3-0 sweep against New Albany earlier this season.
Providence volleyball – one of the state’s most dominant programs – will begin its quest for a fourth consecutive state title Tuesday night.
The Pioneers (29-4), ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, will face host Brownstown at 7 p.m. in the first round of sectional play.
During its three-year stretch of state championships, Providence grabbed two Class 2A titles before being pushed up to Class 3A, where Providence swept Yorktown to win last year’s final.
The Pioneers are an eye-popping 170-19 the past five seasons. In the past three postseasons, Providence is 23-0 and it hasn’t lost a set.
“I thought (such success) was a possibility,” Pioneers coach Terry Purichia said. “But I didn’t know if that would turn into reality.”
Purichia pointed to six years ago, when the future members of the Pioneers’ program sat in the stands and watched Providence tumble in the sectional.
“Those kids, they decided they weren’t going to lose,” she said.
In 2011, Providence advanced to the semi-state at Forest Park. The next year, it lost to Wapahani in the state title match. Purichia said the most difficult step was reaching the first crown in 2013.
“Breaking the seal was the most difficult thing to do,” she said. “Once the kids won that first one, everything just completely flipped. Now we’ve just got unbelievable expectations. It is what it is.
“For some people, anything short of a state championship is an unsuccessful season. That is so unfair. These kids (on the current team) have been so successful. … It is an unbelievable run.”
Purichia has fielded her youngest team in years this season. The Pioneers are led by Purdue commit Marissa Hornung, a junior, and senior setter Lexie Libs, who will play volleyball at East Tennessee State next season.
“We are so different than the team we were in that first match of the season,” she said. “We’ve improved every single day. It’s not always pretty. But we have found a way to win. They are winners.”
Providence, however, has developed some balance and depth. The Pioneers have five players with at least 130 kills, including Hornung (364), Courtney Glotzbach (255), Mia Fougerousse (172), Hanna Mitchell (159) and Madison Kruer (130).
“I’ve just really enjoyed this team,” Purichia said. “They really want to do well.”
New Albany’s Allyson Cathey vs. Floyd Central earlier this season.
At the Jeffersonville Sectional, the two favorites — No. 12 New Albany (24-9) and No. 13 Floyd Central (19-12) — could meet in the first semifinal Saturday morning. During the regular season, the Bulldogs and Highlanders split two matches.
New Albany drew host Jeffersonville in the first round Thursday night at 6 p.m., while Floyd Central will take on Bedford North Lawrence in the nightcap.
Seymour and Jennings County both drew byes into the semifinals. Seymour (18-13) and BNL (20-12) could pose threats.
The Eastern Pekin Sectional could be decided in the first round on Thursday night, when Henryville (17-7) takes on Paoli (20-11) at 6 p.m. Back on Aug. 20 at Henryville, the Rams won 2-1.
Christian Academy of Indiana is the huge favorite in the South Central Sectional.
CAI (26-6), the defending Class 1A state champion, currently ranked No. 1, drew a bye into the semifinals and will face Rock Creek Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Sectional volleyball schedule
Sectional 15 at Jeffersonville
Thursday: New Albany vs. Jeffersonville, 6; Floyd Central vs. Bedford North Lawrence, 7:30
Saturday: NA-Jeff winner vs. Floyd-BNL winner, 11 a.m.; Jennings County vs. Seymour, 12:30; Final at 7.
Sectional 30 at Brownstown
Tuesday: Brownstown vs. Providence 7
Thursday: Silver Creek vs. Scottsburg, 6; Salem vs. Corydon, 7:30
Saturday: Brownstown-Providence winner vs. Charlestown, 11 a.m.; Silver Creek-Scottsburg winner vs. Salem-Corydon winner, 12:30; Final at 7.
Sectional 46 at Eastern Pekin
Thursday: Henryville vs. Paoli, 6
Saturday: Clarksville vs. Crawford County, 11 a.m.; Henryville-Paoli winner vs. Eastern Pekin, 1; Final at 6.
Sectional 61 at West Washington
Thursday: Medora vs. Orleans, 6; Crothersville vs. West Washington, 7:40
Saturday: Medora-Orleans winner vs. Crothersville-WW winner, 11 a.m.; Borden vs. Trinity Lutheran, 12:30; Final at 7.
Sectional 62 at South Central
Thursday: Shawe Memorial vs. Lanesville, 6; New Washington vs. South Central, 7:30
Saturday: Shawe-Lanesville winner vs. New Washington-South Central winner, 10 a.m.; Christian Academy vs. Rock Creek, 11:30; Final at 7.