Providence, the defending Class 2-A state volleyball champion, is testing itself against the best, on a state and national scale.
The Pioneers suffered a three-game loss (25-20, 25-18, 25-18) to Louisville Mercy, which is ranked No. 23 in the nation by MaxPreps and No. 2 in Kentucky, on Wednesday night. On Saturday, Providence will host defending Class 4-A state champion Avon, ranked No. 1 in Indiana and No.12 in the nation.
Other ranked foes looming ahead on the Providence schedule include Ravenwood, Tenn. (ranked No. 13 nationally) on Aug. 30, Floyd Central (No. 3 in 4-A) on Sept. 17, Louisville Sacred Heart (No. 3 in Kentucky) on Sept. 24, Brownstown (No. 7 in 3-A) on Oct. 2, and Columbus East (No. 6 in 4-A) on Oct. 15.
Providence, with returning All-State stars Haley Libs, Taylor Wilson and Patricia Mattingly, went 36-4 last season, capping the run with a three-game sweep of Hammond Noll in the state final.
If Providence wins a regional title this season, the Pioneers will be bumped up to Class 3-A for the 2015-16 seasons by the IHSAA “success factor” rule.
Jeffersonville’s Josh Burke has signed with Danville College. Burke pitched a no-hitter against Providence during the 2014 season and helped the Red Devils win a Class 4-A sectional title.
New Albany will host three alumni All-Star games on Sept. 13 at New Albany High School.
The Legacy All-Stars, featuring players from the 1970s and ‘80s, will play at 5:30 p.m., followed by the 1990s All-Star game at 6:15 and the 2000s All-Star Game at 7:30. Admission will be $4.
The number of participants in high school sports increased for the 25th consecutive year with a record total of almost 7.8 million, according to numbers released by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Sports participation in 2013-14 reached an all-time high of 7,795,658. Girls participation increased for the 25th consecutive year with an additional 44,941 participants and set an all-time record of 3,267,664. Boys participation eclipsed 4.5 million for the first time (4,527,994).
The increase in boys participation was attributed to the first increase in football numbers in five years. An additional 6,607 boys participated in 11-player football in 2013-14. In addition, another 1,715 girls participated in 11-player football last year, an increase of 184 from the previous year.
Justin Sokeland can be reached at (502) 582-4059.