Providence volleyball secures second straight league crown

After winning its first Liberty League championship in 13 years a year ago, the Pioneers lost two key players, namely All-CIF Southern Section standout Phil Harvey, who graduated.

After the team's next-best offensive weapon transferred, even Pioneers Coach Josh Eggleston thought the prospect of his team repeating as league champion was slim at best.

But his players kept telling the coach that winning league was something they could do, even if the coach brushed it off.

Having to retool the offense and bring up a crop of players from the junior varsity program, Eggleston helped guide the Pioneers in the right direction. That direction ended with the sweetest of destinations Thursday, as Providence defeated visiting Pacifica Christian, 25-15, 25-15, 25-25, to clinch the Liberty League championship outright.

The title is not only the second straight for the Pioneers (14-9, 9-0 in league), but it is the first time in the history of the program that Providence has captured back-to-back championships.

"After what we lost from last year, I don't think anyone would have thought that we would have a chance to win the league title again," Eggleston said. "But I have to give our players credit; they were hungry for it and they really wanted it. They kept telling me that we're going to do it, we're going to do it, and even though I might have doubted it they went out and got the job done.

"It was their goal all along to get that title and they were able to accomplish that."

Against Pacifica Christian, the Pioneers were led in the middle by sophomore Kieran McGroarty and also received solid efforts from senior Brandon Reyes, junior Taylor Saldana and senior Justin Bicol.

Eggleston said although his team was facing the possibility of securing the league title, while playing at home on Senior Night, he said the Pioneers were surprising calm.

"They weren't nervous," Eggleston said. "They were pretty confident and I think they felt like they could win and they thought that they could win. It was just a real sort of quiet confidence like they saw it as a task at hand and they have a job to do and let's show up and take care of business. That's how they came in and that's how they played."

With the graduation of Harvey, who was the league player of the year and an All-Area selection, it forced Eggleston to find a new offensive approach and spread things around. He said the Pioneers adapted nicely to the newly formulated approach.

"The hardest thing for us to realize that we didn't have they safety net," he said. "With Phil we could just get the ball outside to and he would take care of it. But without him and the other player who transferred out, we really had to run our system. So our offense became more varied and all of our hitters tend to get kills. That's what really helped us this season."


Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.

Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World