BURBANK — Both the Providence High and Holy Family girls' volleyball coaches praised the resiliency of their teams after the two squads took Thursday night's match to five games.
Holy Family walked away feeling better about the contest after pulling out the victory, 26-24, 25-20, 16-25, 16-25, 15-10. Providence still had something to be proud of, though, fighting with its back against the wall, after dropping the first two games, to force a fifth game.
Pioneers Coach Josh Eggleston said his team lost because it didn't play up to its ability from the beginning. He hopes the team uses that as a lesson moving forward.
"It's the kind of lesson you wish you could learn after winning a game five, but they are a resilient group and we will be fine," Eggleston said.
After nearly dropping a match where they jumped out to a two-game lead, Gaels Coach Robert Bringas, Jr. said his team also had plenty to learn from Thursday.
"I think the girls learned a lot about where their team is at and what they need to do to improve," Bringas said.
The Gaels (3-1) got out to a 14-9 lead in the first game, but saw the Pioneers (1-2) knot the game at 15-15 after going on a 6-1 run. Neither team took more than a two-point lead after that, as Holy Family just edged Providence in the first game, 26-24.
The second game started out as a nail biter, tied, 14-14, halfway through, when Holy Family went on an 8-1 run to take a comfortable 22-15 lead. The Gaels racked up six aces in that run, four from Denise Patino and two from Rianne Sanchez, as they took a two-game lead with a 25-20 win.
Patino finished the match with five aces, five kills and five blocks. Alexa and Ashlee Sandoval also had 14 and 16 digs, respectively, for Holy Family in the contest.
"The first two games is not how we've looked this year," Eggleston said. "That's the first time I've seen that disconnected feel this year. [The key] was really getting back to the way we've been playing."
Providence found its stride in the third game, cruising out to 4-0 lead and never looking back on route to a 25-16 win. After falling down, 3-0, in the fourth game, the Pioneers battled to tie the game at 8. Providence went on a 17-8 run after that to wrap up the fourth game, 25-16.
Thalia Alvarez collected eight kills in game three and four for Providence. She finished with a game-high 13 kills. Janel Adraneda had eight kills and 14 digs for the Pioneers.
"Setters love going to [Alvarez]," Eggleston said. "She is a third-year varsity starter and she knows what's going on and how to find her shots. We need to get more balanced, but she is our go-to hitter right now."
Eggleston liked the position his team was in heading into the fifth game, but just like the Pioneers got back on track in the third and fourth game, so did the Gaels.
"We just wanted to play our game," Patino said. "We were shaky in the third and fourth game, so we just had to pull it back together and play the way we know we can."
Holy Family found its rhythm and jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the final game. The cushion was enough for the Gaels to outlast a Pioneer rally and win the game and match, 15-10.
"Our ability to come back in game five speaks to our resilience," Bringas said. "This group is very used to five-game matches. This was good for us to work on our timing, stamina and see that we can hang in there."