MUNCIE, Ind. – Providence completed its mission with an emphatic spike of Southwood in the Class 2-A volleyball state final on Saturday afternoon at Ball State University.
The No.1 Pioneers won their second straight championship, smacking Southwood 25-17, 25-14, 25-18. Senior star Taylor Wilson, whose foot-stomping, fist-pumping celebrations and net kills set the tone, had nine kills and three blocks to lead Providence to its expected conclusion.
The pressure was on Providence (33-3) as the overwhelming favorite. The Pioneers shrugged that off and pounded the No.11 Knights (26-14) into submission. Once Providence recovered from a 7-1 deficit in Game 2, the only glitch of the day, the huge championship trophy was ready to be engraved.
Providence will move up to Class 3-A next season because of the IHSAA’s “Success Factor” rule. It might be the best volleyball team in the state this year, regardless of classification. The regular-season wins over 4-A competition this season suggest that. Southwood was no match.
“The heavy favorite is a horrible position to be in,” Providence coach Terri Purichia said. “It’s been a mental challenge all year to refocus ourselves. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been here, there’s a lot of pressure when you step out on that court.”
Providence had several stars. Jacquie Hornung had 11 kills while freshman Marissa Hornung, whom Purichia set the entire rotation around this season, had 10 kills and 10 digs. Patricia Mattingly, who won the Mental Attitude Award, dished out 39 assists.
“I can’t say enough about what Jacquie’s play has done for this team,” Purichia said. “She elevated her game to a different level and been such a force.
“I can’t say enough about the seniors. They are so very talented. Their leadership skills have been incredible. This is a very bittersweet moment for me. I adore this team and they’ve played a special part in putting Providence on the state map.”
Mattingly, who will play at the U.S. Naval Academy and study cyber crime and internet security, made sure Providence was secure after the sluggish start in Game 2. Southwood, with Emile Harnish knocking down seven kills and Sami White adding 17 assists, did not roll over. The Knights simply were outgunned.
“It’s never easy,” Mattingly said. “We had teams coming at us with everything they had. But it made it so much more fun.”
“Honestly, that team was really good,” Wilson said. “We just had to find our game.”
The Pioneers dominated every statistic with a 45-24 advantage in kills and a 39-29 edge in digs. They got the ball up and back over the net before the Knights could adjust. That consistent play led to the 14-6 burst that reversed the flow of Game 2 and a 12-4 spurt that sealed Game 3.
Providence’s run to three straight title games was remarkable. And there were as many tears at its end as there were smiles.
“There’s a lot of emotion,” Purichia said. “We knew when they were very young that we had a special group. What we’ve accomplished is beyond everyone’s wildest expectations. It’s an incredible feeling.”
“It’s a great honor,” Mattingly said. “It hasn’t hit me yet. When I get older, I will look back on it and it will make me so much moré prouder of this team and what we accomplished.”
Justin Sokeland can be reached at (502) 582-4059.