GLENDALE — The Providence High girls' volleyball team has been waiting anxiously for its Liberty League opener.
While all the other teams had already opened league play heading into Wednesday, the Pioneers were still waiting to get their taste of league competition. Providence's opponent, Glendale Adventist Academy, already had three league contests under its belt when the two met for their first meeting of the year.
"I don't know why we haven't played any league games up until now," Providence Coach James Jimenez said. "It was just something strange with the scheduling."
The Pioneers made the most of their first league challenge, holding off the Cougars in two of three games to earn a 27-25, 25-15, 26-24 victory at Glendale Adventist.
Providence (10-5, 1-0 in league) received a solid performance from sophomore outside hitter Fabi Jimenez, who had a match-high nine kills to go along with 10 digs.
"I didn't even know it was a league game until it was finished," said Fabi Jimenez, who is also an accomplished basketball and softball player for the Pioneers. "But it's nice to finally play in a league game … we've been waiting."
The Pioneers also received seven kills from Lorena Ubillus, 31 assists from Jenny Nardoni and 24 digs from Nikka Adraneda.
It was only in the second game that the Pioneers were able to completely outplay the Cougars (5-6, 1-3). In fact, in the second and third games, Glendale Adventist had a chance to come out victorious in both games, but was derailed by unforced errors.
"I didn't think we were completely focused today," Glendale Adventist Coach Gared Luquest said. "But it was just the little things that hurt us today, like the unforced errors. We just made too many unforced errors.
"But we're playing against a team that just doesn't let the ball drop. They are always one of the top teams in the league and when you hit a ball at them you know it's going to come back at you hard."
The Pioneers looked in control early in the match, as they jumped out to a seven-point advantage, 8-1, out of the gate in the first game. Although the Cougars played well midway through the stanza, Providence maintained its cushion, 17-10.
But Glendale Adventist began to claw its way back and when Ariana Calderon made good on her second consecutive ace, the Cougars had tied the score at 21. The teams would knot the score four more times at 22, 23, 24 and 25. Providence was then able to go up, 26-25, on a kill by Nardoni, and the Cougars sealed their own fate with a net volition that gave the Pioneers the game.
"You saw how good we can be in the early part of that game," James Jimenez said. "But then we start making mental errors and we let them back into it. But we were able to hold them off and battle back and that's what counts."
Providence dominated the second game, leading from the get-go.
The Cougars were able to enjoy their first lead of the match early in the third game with a 2-1 lead. But Providence stayed close and took back the lead, 6-5, on a Cougars hitting error.
As hard as Glendale Adventist tried, it just couldn't erase the Providence lead. That was until Kimya Marefat came up with a kill to put the Cougars on top, 24-23. Unfortunately for the hosts, they couldn't close out the game, as a hitting error gave the Pioneers new life.
Providence than took a 25-24 advantage following an ace by Adraneda and closed out the contest on a Glendale Adventist net violation.
Melisa Lopez had seven kills for the Cougars.