Playing like one of the best volleyball teams in Indiana, Providence smothered visiting Floyd Central 25-17, 25-13, 25-22 on Wednesday night.
A year ago Providence edged the Highlanders in a five-set match, and Pioneers coach Terri Purichia said she expected another tight one.
“I’m thrilled with that,” said Purichia, whose defending Class 2-A champions are ranked No. 1. “Both teams are about the same from last season. We didn’t lose a lot and they didn’t lose a lot.”
Floyd Central coach Bart Powell said the Pioneers (18-2) are better than they were a year ago.
“They’re probably the best ball-control team in the state of Indiana,” said Powell, whose team slipped to 10-4. “They’ve beaten a lot of teams. I think they’re a top-50 team in the country. Their quickness is incredible. They’re fast, well-coached and quick and quick and quick.”
Providence’s Anna Wingate (right) and teammate Patricia Mattingly celebrate a game two win against Floyd Central on Wednesday at Providence High School. Providence won the match 3 – 0. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to the C-J) Sept. 17, 2014.
The Pioneers spurted to a 5-1 lead in the first set, and the bigger Highlanders never recovered. Powell pointed to 10 unforced errors in that set that established the tone for the match.
In the second set, Providence used a 10-3 run to push its lead to 19-9 before cruising.
“I think Floyd came out a little rattled,” Purichia said. “I thought we did a nice job of serving the ball and keeping them out of system.”
The Pioneers enjoyed plenty of balance. Senior middle hitter Taylor Wilson and outside hitter Carlie Combs each had 11 kills, and Jacquie Hornung added eight.
“Carlie is our X factor,” Purichia said. “They really didn’t have an answer for Carlie. She kind of sneaks up on you, and you don’t realize she’s coming.”
The Highlanders led 16-10 in the third set, but Providence used a 9-1 lead to surge ahead. Purichia said her players lost a bit of focus, then regained the momentum when Wilson rotated back into the match.
“They have been incredibly focused along the way,” she said. “I’m very, very fortunate to have special group of kids in our program right now. I don’t think there will ever be a team like this again. The things that are happening to them, they deserve.”
The Pioneers have a date with Louisville power Sacred Heart on Wednesday.
“This group of kids haven’t beaten Sacred Heart,” Purichia said. “That’s important to them.”
Mikaila Humphrey led the Highlanders with eight kills.
Powell said his team will regroup.
“We’re not playing confidently,” he said. “We’ve got to fix our minds a little bit. … It’s not about now. It’s about six weeks from now. We just have to learn and move on.”