November 28, 2014

‘Mission’ accomplished as Providence wins second straight state title

Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School players and coaches are pictured with the Class 2A state volleyball trophy on Nov. 8 at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena in Muncie. (Submitted photo by Tom Fougerousse)

Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School players and coaches are pictured with the Class 2A state volleyball trophy on Nov. 8 at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena in Muncie. (Submitted photo by Tom Fougerousse)

By John Shaughnessy

The celebration of a second straight state championship overflowed with the joyous screams, tight hugs and glowing smiles of the volleyball players.

The joy extended into the stands where their fans, friends and families cheered, including the players’ dads who had donned the Blues Brothers outfits of black suits, black ties, black hats and black sunglasses in support of the theme their daughters embraced this season: “We’re on a mission.”

Consider the mission of back-to-back state championships complete—and accomplished in remarkable style by the volleyball team of Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville.

On Nov. 8, the Providence team once again won the Class 2A girls’ volleyball championship of the Indiana High School Athletic Association. The Pioneers beat the team from Southwood High School 25-17, 25-14, 25-18 at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena in Muncie.

In sweeping the match, Providence continued an amazing post-season streak that began with its 2013 state champions. In the past two state tournaments, Providence never lost a set, going 39-0 in that stretch.

While that streak connected the two teams, the two state championships provided different emotions for the head coach who led both squads.

“This year was a lot different for me,” said Terri Purichia, who has been the Providence coach since 1998 and who had dreamed of a state championship for the school since she played there as a freshman in 1986.

“Last year, I cried. I felt the pressure had lifted. It had been a goal for a long time, and I wondered if it was ever going to happen. This year, I have a sense of overwhelming pride. I just enjoyed it so much more. I did not feel the pressure. I knew we had something special in this group of kids. Watching them battle all season long gave me such confidence that they would find a way to win.”

Purichia gave the credit for the team’s success to its five seniors: Maddie Bivens, Carlie Combs, Haley Libs, Patricia Mattingly and Taylor Wilson.

“They were the perfect recipe,” Purichia said about the seniors. “They are really good friends outside the court. They’re extremely dedicated. They’re great leaders, and they’re good students. And they have great character. They’ve done everything humanly possible to get to the level they are.”

In their four years of playing, the seniors have set a standard of success that few teams ever accomplish. When they were freshmen, their team made it to the semi-state of the tournament. As sophomores, they finished as state runners-up. And the past two years, they earned state championships.

“Even good teams don’t get to the state championship once, and they’ve been to the state title match each of the past three seasons,” their coach said. “They were on a mission, and they weren’t going to let anything or anyone get in their way.

“They made it look easy, but it wasn’t easy. They kept themselves focused. They kept themselves humble. And they kept enjoying everything along the way. To watch them finish it off like they did, everyone was so happy for them.”

Purichia paused for a moment, and the emotion she showed after last year’s championship flowed through as she said, “I love this group of seniors so much.”

With all the team has accomplished, Purichia just has one regret about the season.

“I just hated for this season to be over, because this group is just so much fun to be around.” †

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