LA CAÑADA — Through the years, the Flintridge Prep and Providence High girls’ volleyball teams have competed in nonleague and tournament matches.
It’s led to a healthy rivalry and mutual respect.
Don’t expect that to change with the two teams now competing in the Prep League after Providence joined the organization after years in the Liberty League. There’s a lot more at stake now between the Rebels and Pioneers.
Flintridge Prep got the best of Providence in the first of two head-to-head meetings, as Libby Penn finished with 21 digs, 11 kills and three aces and Courtney Johnson added 10 kills Tuesday to spur host Flintridge Prep to a 19-25, 25-15, 25-13, 215-18 victory.
Flintridge Prep (2-2, 1-2 in league) turned to its depth to hold Providence (6-1) at bay. The Pioneers were participating in their first league match.
“It’s always been a fun rivalry and we’ve had a lot of close matches with Providence in recent years, most of them going four or five sets,” Flintridge Prep coach Sean Beattie said. “It means a little bit more now that we are in the same league
“They punched us good in the face in the first set and we really needed to regroup. In the past, we’d go into a ditch. I liked the way we responded in the last three sets. We have a lot of depth and we did a good job with our digging and putting balls away.”
Flintridge Prep received 33 assists from Anii Bernardi.
Providence played with plenty of determination in the first set, jumping out to a 13-10 lead on a kill by Justine Nunez (five kills and 13 assists). Flintridge Prep regrouped to take a 19-18 lead before Providence closed things out on a 7-0 run.
“I really like the way we played in the first set and we came out hard,” said Providence assistant coach Liz Reuter, who filled in for coach James Jimenez. “We came out wanting to stay undefeated and we did a lot of good things.
“We played well and we have a bit of a younger team now. It’s going to continue to be a good rivalry and tonight confirmed that much more.”
In the second set, the Rebels used a 5-0 run to build a 17-7 lead. Penn had two aces to highlight the run and evened the match at one set apiece with a kill.
A kill by Penn made it 12-7 in the third set and a block by Johnson, a reigning All-Area and all-league selection, extended the lead to 15-9.
“It was big to get the third set,” Johnson said. “We did a lot of things well and we had a lot more confidence after winning the second set.”
Flintridge Prep jumped out to a 13-5 lead on a kill by Johnson in the fourth set. Providence rallied to tie the score at 16 on a kill by Ashley Davis (11 kills). Flintridge Prep sealed the victory, going on a 9-2 run that included two kills each from Bernardi and Jada Gritton.
“I thought it was a match that had a lot of energy,” said Providence’s Isabella Mahan-Mesa, who finished with 13 digs. “We learned a lot and we just couldn’t execute toward the end and try to get it to a fifth set.”
The Pioneers also received 11 kills from Ashley Davis and five kills, 13 assists and eight digs from Justine Nuñez.