PROVIDENCE HIGH — In the early part of the decade, Providence High was able to dominate the girls’ volleyball rivalry with Bellarmine-Jefferson.
However, over the past few years the Guards have been able to increase their level of play and now it’s the Pioneers who are playing the underdog role in the cross-town clash.
Despite the Pioneers winning the first game Tuesday, Bell-Jeff battled back to win the nonleague contest, 19-25, 25-16, 26-24 25-23, at Providence.
It was the fourth straight rivalry win for the Guards (1-3).
“It’s always tough when we play against Providence,” Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura said. “It’s a rivalry, so you know it’s going to be an intense match. But I give a lot of credit to Providence; they were in there battling and they were able to make it close.”
Providence (1-4) found itself in another tough contest after falling in five games last week to Holy Family. Pioneers Coach Josh Eggleston thought his squad played well enough to win Tuesday.
“I know it’s frustrating for them,” said Eggleston, referring to the Providence players. “To lose two tough ones like that back to back is very difficult. We just have to overcome some of the mental problems that we’ve had early in the season.”
The Guards received a big effort from their All-CIF outside hitter Jocelyn Cervantes, who had a match-high 21 kills.
Bell-Jeff didn’t utilize Cervantes much in the first game, however, as she tallied just three kills. The Pioneers took advantage, going ahead in the game, 4-3, and never trailing the remainder of the stanza.
Providence outside hitter Thalia Alvarez came up big in the first game with five kills. She ended the evening with nine kills.
“We had a new lineup [Tuesday], and I think that had a lot to do with how we played in that first game,” Segura said. “The girls’ wanted to change the lineup, but I told them to just be patient and that we would settle down.”
The Guards seemed to find their rhythm in the second game, taking control early and not letting the Pioneers come back.
That wasn’t the case in the third game, as the teams battled back and forth and Providence just fell short of a comeback.
Bell-Jeff again had to stave off the pesky Pioneers in the fourth game, as the hosts tied the score at 22. But two big blocks from Bell-Jeff’s Layana White late in the game helped the Guards close out the match.
“We start league play next week, so the learning curve just ended for us,” Eggleston said. “We have a mature team, and we have some good leaders. I’m just hoping that we can bounce back from this and be ready for league.”