PROVIDENCE HIGH — Providence High’s boys’ volleyball team was hoping for a better result than it had the first time around this season against Viewpoint.
In the team’s first meeting March 15, the Pioneers were swept, as they could manage just nine points in one of the games and 18 in each of the other two.
But the second meeting Wednesday had more important implications for Providence. A win against the league-leading Patriots would give the Pioneers a share of the Liberty League championship, the program’s first in 12 years.
Having to likely mount one of their best efforts of the season to defeat the undefeated Patriots, the Pioneers didn’t come close. Providence couldn’t handle Viewpoint’s powerful service game and the Pioneers made their share of errors on their serves, losing in a three-game sweep at home, 25-20, 25-13, 25-20.
Despite the loss in the final regular-season match, the Pioneers (14-9, 8-2 in league) finish second in the Liberty League and will next look forward to the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs. The playoff pairings will be released Saturday morning.
“The coach said we have 24 hours to get over this loss, then we get back to practice tomorrow,” Providence senior Gabe Cruz said. “We have to get ready for the playoffs and not think about this loss too much.”
The league championship was a swan song for Viewpoint (14-6, 10-0) — ranked No. 6 in Division V — which will reportedly be moving out of the Liberty League next season.
Providence Coach Josh Eggleston said his team’s mistakes, which included 15 service errors, coupled with the Patriots’ strong serving and relentless attack led to the Pioneers’ downfall.
“This was definitely not one of our better efforts, it wasn’t even in the top five,” Eggleston said. “We didn’t handle their serving very well. We just don’t see that kind of strong serving a lot. And our serving wasn’t up to par, and that hurt us.”
The Pioneers received seven kills from Andrew Roxas and six from Cruz.
Providence was able to stay with the Patriots throughout much of the first game, trailing, 18-16, following a kill by Providence’s David Nardoni.
“Half-way through Game One, I thought we could play with them,” Eggleston said. “I was telling the guys that we could play with them.”
But that was as close as Providence could come down the stretch in the opener, as the Patriots closed out the game on a 7-4 run.
The Pioneers struggled in the second game, as the team was able to tally just two kills.
In the third game, the Pioneers endured a quick 5-0 deficit. However, Providence battled back and was able to stray within striking distance of the lead. Although the Pioneers whittled the advantage down to one five times, they couldn’t forge ahead. That was until Kellen Smith came up with a kill and Viewpoint committed a net violation to give Providence a 16-15 lead.
But that advantage was short-lived, as two Providence errors allowed the Patriots to jump back out in front, 17-16. From that point, Viewpoint took a three-point advantage and the closest the Pioneers could come to the lead was one, 21-20.
“I don’t think we gave this our best effort,” Cruz said. “We know we can play better than this.”