Providence High earned every bit of the SoMeck 4A volleyball championship trophy.
The Panthers turned back a determined Ardrey Kell rally Wednesday at Harding for a 3-2 win, capping an unbeaten conference campaign. Providence (24-2, 15-0) beat the Knights (17-9, 11-4) for the third time, but needed a 15-11 win in the deciding set.
“I think we have a really good group and sometimes it takes a little bit of luck and a little bit of skill,” first-year Panthers coach Brian Rosen said. “We could’ve just as easily gone 10-4 just like Ardrey Kell and we’ve won two now in five (sets) against them.”
Providence looked like a lock after rolling to 25-17 and 25-15 wins in the first pair of sets but the Knights didn’t fold. Ardrey Kell won the third set 25-20 then overcame a 21-15 deficit to win 25-21, stunning the Panthers in the process.
“We changed the way we started and we got in control of our emotions,” Knights coach Zoe Bell said. “We were allowing calls and all the external things to get in our way and we just started playing volleyball. We started playing defense, too.”
Said Rosen: “That was one of our best rotations. We knew we were playing against a good team that can push a lot of points, but overall I think we got a little timid during that stretch. We didn’t pass like we needed to. Ardrey Kell showed fight throughout the whole match.”
Providence dug deep in the deciding set, reeling off a 3-0 lead, then fighting from behind after Ardrey Kell went on a 6-1 run behind Sylvia Duggan (16 kills) and Sophie Wingfield (19 assists). The Panthers scored five of the final six points to close out, paced by Emily Konchan, who finished with a match-best 43 assists and Carly Peck, who added 11 kills.
“Blocking is a huge momentum thing when you can get them,” Rosen said. “On the first three points, we got two of them and it kind of frustrated their hitters a little bit. We were up 3-0, then all of a sudden it was 3-3 and point for point before we went on that little run at the end.”