Union County’s Carlea Handley hits the ball as Providence’s Taylor Wilson attempts to block Saturday at the Class 2A semistate at Forest Park.
FERDINAND, Ind. – Certain segments of Providence’s fan base were easy to spot Saturday afternoon at the Class 2A Forest Park semistate.
Several were dressed in dark suits, hats and sunglasses, attire made famous by John Belushi and Dan Akroyd in the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”
It fit with the Pioneers’ motto for 2014 of Blue Pride, said volleyball coach Terri Purichia. They were transformed into the “Blue Pride Brothers.”
“Our dads always want to dress up every season. They have like a theme,” Purichia said. “That’s just their outfit of the postseason. They always do something fun, and they have little cheers from the movie.”
The Pioneers gave their fans plenty to cheer for Saturday.
The defending Class 2A state champs swept Union County 25-7, 25-8, 25-16 on the way to a championship sweep, later in the night against Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter.
Serving was key for the Pioneers, as was a balanced offensive effort.
“It looked like it just frustrated them,” Purichia said of the Patriots. “They just didn’t have an answer.”
Purichia said she was concerned with Union County’s defense. The Patriots swept four teams on the way to reaching a third semistate in four seasons.
Union County was coming off a 25-19, 29-27, 26-24 regional championship win at Heritage Christian that saw the Patriots turn away the Eagles on game point in both the second and third games.
“We have a lot of kids who hit the ball,” Purichia said. “We were hoping that would be to our advantage, but when you play a team as sound defensively as them, and you see them on film, we just weren’t sure.
“I can’t say enough about just what a scrappy team they are. I think they do a great job. They’ve had a really good season.”
The Patriots were playing in a seventh overall semistate tournament. They also advanced in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2011 and 2013.
UC seniors Carlea Handley and Bella Pavey played in the past three.
“I definitely want to thank all of the coaches who have coached Bella and I ever since we were in third grade,” Handley said. “For us to be able to say, ‘We’ve been to semistate three times with our Union County team,’ all you can do is thank the coaches who got you here.”
Handley sees a bright future still ahead for the program.
“We definitely have a lot coming up, and there are a lot who are still here that we are definitely looking forward to,” she said.
Sports editor Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463, email@example.com or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI