Providence volleyball enjoys success at home

BURBANK — The Providence High girls' volleyball team, after a brief interlude to take part in the Burbank Tournament on Saturday, returned to a familiar venue Tuesday to finish a four-game slate of nonleague contests on their home floor to open the season.

The final opponent in the homestand was St. Monica Academy of Pasadena, which was unable to avoid mistakes, leading to a clean sweep by the Pioneers, 25-17, 25-12, 25-14, who picked up their play as the match progressed.

"I told the girls we can't be satisfied with just winning because we are going to play tougher teams and we just have to keep getting better every opportunity that we get," said Providence Coach James Jimenez, whose team is now 3-1. "That is why I wasn't happy with some of the plays we had because I think we can be better."

Providence relied on strong defense throughout, anchored by the play of libero Nikka Adraneda, who had 15 digs. The defense was especially key early, as the Pioneers' outside hitting got going as play progressed.

Equally as important to the Pioneers' success was the abundant hitting and passing errors by the visitors that remained constant throughout the contest. Game one, the most competitive of the three, ended with an errant serve by the Crusaders and the final margin on eight points marked the biggest lead of the game.

Game two was tied at 8 until the Pioneers seized control with a 9-2 run. Providence (3-1) finished strong, scoring the last eight points of the game, highlighted by three consecutive aces from Regina Benedicto. The game came to an end on an outside kill from Lorena Ubillus. The junior went on to lead her team with six kills.

"It was a very good win for us. We were waiting for a win like this one," Ubillus said. "We tried our best and we finally crushed them."

The Pioneers were in full control of game three as the Crusader errors mounted. Providence scored the last five points of the match, with the capper coming on a kill from the outside by Julianne Tolentino that ricocheted off a St. Monica Academy back-line player.

"I think we were a little more focused toward the end because I told them we can't let up, we can't just take it easy just because we might be slightly better than the other team," Jimenez said. "We've just got to keep getting better."

Neither team possessed a dominant player up front, although Providence middle blocker Stephanie Henoud was a presence at the net, made even stronger by the absence of the Crusaders' starting middle blocker. The Providence sophomore finished second on her team with five kills.

"It is hard to go from fresh/soph middle to varsity middle, but she is picking it up very well since the summer," Jimenez said. "She's just getting better every game."

The match featured numerous long rallies as both teams' offenses often originated from below the net, but as time went on it was the home team who got the best of this scenario. Providence setter Jennifer Nardoni helped keep things organized and tallied 19 assists for the afternoon.

"We don't really have a girl who can put the ball away with any kind of consistency," Crusader Coach Darren Bradley said. "So we end up getting rallied to death or we rally them to death. The case was today we got rallied to death."

St. Monica Academy (0-2) is left still looking for its first victory, despite coming in ranked No. 6 in CIF-Southern Section Division IV-A, before falling Tuesday afternoon to the Pioneers of Division IV-A.

"It's always good to beat ranked teams no matter what division they are in," Jimenez said.

Providence will now leave its home court to play next Tuesday at Milken Community, one of four nonleague matches left before the start of Liberty League competition.

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