early woes, and was able to dispose of the visitors, 25-18, 19-25,
"I was a little bit nervous in the beginning, and I think there
were a few of us who were feeling that in the first game," Pioneer
junior setter Jeff Kurges said.
"We kind of had a letdown in that second game and we didn't play
very well. But we were able to come back and win the next two."
Providence, the sixth seed in the playoffs, received a bye in the
first round and was playing its first match of the postseason.
At times against the Wildcats (14-7), the Pioneers were their own
worst enemy, as they had their share of miscues, including committing
20 service errors.
"We have three or four guys who have jump-serves, so some errors
are going to happen," Providence first-year Coach James Jimenez said.
"We weren't at our best in the first two games.
"But the guys didn't give up and we were able to settle down and
play a lot better later in the [match]."
The Pioneers' jitters showed in the first game when they accounted
for seven service errors. Whitney also had problems, making nine
Providence was able to pull out the game largely because of the
play of junior middle blocker Alex Knopper. Knopper had five of his
match-high 15 kills in the first game.
Teammate Bedros Atmajian added 14 kills, Ryan Bartolome had 10
kills and Kurges had 40 assists and eight aces on a wicked
Led by Jamie Hernandez and Jeffrey Kuo, the Wildcats seized a
17-16 lead in the second game and took advantage of 11 Providence
Seemingly inspired by their opponent's resolve, the Pioneers came
roaring back in the third, leading throughout.
It was more of the same in the fourth, as Providence took control
of the game early and wore down the Wildcats.
"Once we settled down we played a lot better," Jimenez said. "It
was nice to get that first win out of the way."
The Pioneers entered the playoffs after finishing second in the
Liberty League behind champion Viewpoint, the No. 1 seed.
Providence's chances to win a league championship might increase
next season as Viewpoint leaves the league.