BURBANK — The Providence High boys' volleyball team entered Tuesday's opening playoff match with a wealth of confidence.
That positive attitude stemmed from the fact that the team the Pioneers were facing in their CIF Southern Section Division V first-round contest was a familiar one. The opponent came in the form of Pacific Hills, a team the Pioneers — who were depleted at the time — had swept in their own Providence Tournament in March.
With the assurance of that win on their side, the Pioneers opened the postseason by easily downing the Bruins, 25-12, 25-14, 25-10, in a contest at Providence.
"It was nice that we got a team we had already beaten for the playoffs," said Providence junior Taylor Saldana, who led the Pioneers with 11 kills. "The last time we played we didn't have our whole team because some of them were missing.
"Even though we played them before, we didn't want to overlook them and think that just because we beat them once we could beat them again. We just battled and tried to play the best that we could."
Since his Pioneers (16-10), who won their second straight Liberty League championship, learned that they would be taking on Pacific Hills (6-15), the No. 3 team from the Costal League, Providence Coach Josh Eggleston had been imploring his players to not take the Bruins too lightly.
"The confidence was high today, but not too high," Eggleston said. "It was really right where we wanted it to be. I think we showed up to win and we played like we wanted to win. I was just very pleased with our overall performance."
The win puts the Pioneers into a second-round match Thursday against either fourth-seeded Arrowhead Christian (Arrowhead League champion) or Capistrano Valley Christian (No. 3 from the San Joaquin League) at a site to be determined.
"We know the second round is going to be a lot tougher," Eggleston said. "If Arrowhead wins, which I think they should, they are a very good team. And if a team is good enough to beat them, then that has got to be a pretty good team. We just have to be ready to play a very tough opponent."
The Pioneers will have a nice springboard heading into the next round after thoroughly handling the Bruins.
Providence received seven kills from senior Ian Laue and six from sophomore Chris Lingt, who also tallied six aces.
Providence's superiority was evident early against Pacific Hills. The Pioneers began the contest with a dominating presence, jumping out to a 12-3 advantage in the first game. The Pioneers were finally able to push the lead to double digits, 16-6, on a Bruins hitting error, and closed out the stanza with ease.
"I've seen a lot of growth with his team this season," said Eggleston, whose team features just three seniors. "The young guys don't look young any more and the seniors are really stepping up. Really, everything has been moving in the right direction for us and even over the last couple of weeks I have seen a push with the guys."
The Pioneers had more trouble distancing themselves from Pacific Hills in the second game, as the Bruins were down by just three points, 9-6. But fueled by a fine serving sequence from Lingt, Providence embarked on a 9-0 run to push the lead to 12, 18-6. Lingt had three aces during the run. The Pioneers were able to cruise the rest of the way to easily win the game.
Pacific Hills came out and grabbed a 6-4 lead in the third game. However, another substantial run, this time a 6-0 streak, enabled Providence to surge in front, 10-6. The Pioneers kept up the pressure the rest of the way and the lead was never in jeopardy.
"I think we had a real varied attack on offense and the guys just performed very well." Eggleston said.
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.