PROVIDENCE HIGH — Providence High's boys' volleyball team has had a problem maintaining its intensity throughout the course of an entire match this season.
When the Pioneers keep their intensity level high, they can compete against the top teams in the Liberty League. However, when that intensity falters, Providence often struggles against vastly inferior squads.
Still in contention for a league championship, the Pioneers needed a spirited effort Tuesday against Oakwood to stay in contention. Although the Pioneers committed their share of unforced errors, they untimely maintained their concentration and came away with a 25-23, 22-25, 25-16, 25-21, win at home against the Gorillas.
The win puts Providence (14-8, 7-1 in league) into a showdown with league-leading Viewpoint at 6 p.m. today at home. A win against the Patriots (13-6, 8-0) in the final regular season match of the season would give the Pioneers a share of the league championship, their first in 12 years.
Providence Coach Josh Eggleston said he has been looking for the type of emotional performance this team displayed against Oakwood (5-4 in league) all season.
"This is the first game that they've really played with their hearts," Eggleston said. "They played with a meaning, they played with a purpose. We have been trying to get that kind of effort out of them all year. Whatever the result, I'll take that kind of effort all day.
"We know we're going to have to have that kind of effort [today] against Viewpoint.
After going up in games, 2-1, Providence had a chance to close out the match in the fourth game. However, the pesky Gorillas looked intent on pushing the contest to a winner-take-all fifth game.
Oakwood had a lead throughout most of the game, as the Pioneers battled but just couldn't forge out in front. Providence was finally able to take a 19-18 lead on an Oakwood error. Over the course of the next five points, the teams battled to three ties. Providence was eventually able to go ahead for good, 22-21, on a kill from Andrew Roxas.
The Pioneers were kept in the fourth game by the solid play of senior outside hitter Jackson Saldana, who tallied six of his 14 kills in the stanza.
"I just had to do anything I could for the team to win," Saldana said. "We knew this was a pivotal game that we had to win, so we just came out ready."
The Pioneers won the first game despite committing 16 unforced errors compared to Oakwood's 10.
Sixteen unforced errors by Providence in the second game allowed the Gorillas to come on late to tie the match at a game apiece.
Providence took control of the third game, leading throughout. Both teams had 10 unforced errors each in the game.
"We don't want to be ending our possession with the ball on a missed serve," said Eggleston, whose squad committed 15 service errors. "We don't mind if the other team gets a sideout, but losing control because of our serve, that hurt."
Gabe Cruz had 10 kills and David Nardoni added eight for Providence.