BURBANK — The players on the Providence High boys' volleyball team are determined not to repeat what happened last season.
In 2017, the Pioneers struggled in the Liberty League, finishing near the bottom of the standings, while not qualifying for the CIF Southern Section playoffs — a rarity for the program.
Already two matches into league play, it appears Providence is leaving the disappoint from a year ago in its wake.
The Pioneers earned their second Liberty League victory in as many contests Wednesday afternoon when they swept Pacifica Christian, 25-22, 25-15, 26-24, at home.
"Last year was pretty disappointing when we didn't make the playoffs." said Providence's Zack Pikhart. "It was pretty much a new team and that might have been expected.
"But this year we're really gelling and meshing as a team. And being around this team this year has been really fun. We are definitely all focused on getting back to the playoffs this year."
Providence (11-2, 2-0 in league) has doubled the amount of league wins from the previous season and Wednesday's victory came against a Pacifica Christian (2-4, 0-2) team that advanced to the Division V quarterfinals in 2017.
Pickhart was a driving force for the Pioneers, tallying a match-high 18 kills. Nick Tidik added nine kills and Michael Zwart contributed eight, while Weston Tengan had 20 digs, Gerald Martin had 22 assists, Zach Hurst added 17 assists and Carl Menke had six blocks.
Providence turned things around in the opening set, which grabbed momentum in the game and set the tone the rest of the way against the Seawolves.
In an opening set that featured 11 ties, Providence took a three-point lead, 10-7, on a Pacifica Christian lift call. But the Seawolves hung around, surged ahead and took a three-point advantage, 20-17, on a kill by Timmy Ellis (team-high six kills). The Pioneers then embarked on a 5-0 run for a 22-20 lead. Providence finished the game on a kill by Pickhart.
"That's what we've been working on, momentum," Providence coach Nicole Brouilard said. "That's what I've been telling the guys; it's got to be runs of points and that will lead to the momentum and that's how you're going to be able to get on a roll and win, especially in three.
"It was nice to see how they played today. I tell the boys that you work hard in practice and you can take what you've learned and display all of your talents and skills that you have in a game."
The Pioneers took control of the second game early, jumping out to a 9-4 lead. Providence increased its advantage to 13, 21-9, following a Pacific Christian service error. A kill by Martin secured the set and put the Pioneers in front, 2-0.
Providence kept up the momentum in the third game and looked to close things out up by seven, 21-14. But the Seawolves battled back and made a push. A Pioneers' attacking error that went wide allowed Pacifica Christian to tie the score at 24. However, Pikhart stepped up and tallied two kills to complete the sweep.