BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — Having beaten rival Providence High in four straight cross-town matches, the Bellarmine-Jefferson girls' volleyball team has definitely had the upper hand in the clash the past few years.
However, as inconsistent as the Guards have played this season, no one on the Bell-Jeff team¿ was ready to look past the Pioneers.
Although Providence played well at times — holding leads in two of three games — the Guards were able to hold off the threats to earn a 25-23, 25-14, 25-20 nonleague victory Thursday at Bell-Jeff.
"The way we've played this season, we can't afford to take any team lightly, let alone our rival," Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura said. "Being more consistent is something that we've tried to work on in practice. It's been slow in coming, but we're getting there."
The Guards (2-5-1) have had to deal with the task of having players get used to playing new positions this season. Segura said that learning process has helped lead to the team's uneven play.
"Having a new setter is a big thing," he said. "It just takes practice for the setter to get in sync with the hitters. Also we have some new players from the basketball program and they're getting used to playing volleyball."
The Guards received a solid performance from senior All-CIF Southern Section outside hitter Jocelyn Cervantes, who had a match-high 20 kills in 26 attempts. She also had 13 digs. Teammate Amanda Maloof had 25 assists and Taryn Nelson had six kills, four aces and 10 digs.
Providence came out ready to play and held a 23-21 lead in the first game. But the Guards battled back to tie the score at 23 and closed out the frame with two aces.
"Mentally they just got to us," Providence assistant coach Liz Reuter said of the Guards. "I thought we played pretty well in that first game, but we let them come back and win it."
Bell-Jeff jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the second game and the Pioneers (2-4) were never able to recover.
It was another tough battle in the third game, with Providence battling back to take a 15-13 advantage. However, just as in the first two games, the Guards clawed their way back to take a 16-15 lead, a lead they would never relinquish.
Thalia Alvarez had five kills and seven digs, Bea Yosuico had four kills, Janel Andreneda had nine assists and April Leyva had six digs for Providence.