"A few of those points could have gone either way," said Providence Coach James Jimenez, who piloted the Pioneers to the semifinals last season before losing to eventual champion Viewpoint in four games. "Sage Hill stepped it up in the fourth game because they just made a few more plays than us.
"They fought off the momentum after we took the second game. They got some big points, and we weren't as consistent as we needed to be in the third game."
Sage Hill, which finished second in the difficult Academy League behind second-seeded Brethren Christian this season, stole Providence's momentum after the Pioneers captured the second game.
Providence, which posted a four-game victory against host Glendale Adventist Academy in an opening-round match Friday, committed three service errors and couldn't fend off freshman outside hitter Joey Booth. Booth had four of his 14 kills in the pivotal third game.
Providence, which took third in the Liberty League behind top-seeded Viewpoint and Oakwood this season, received a team-high 12 kills from junior outside hitter Andy Park and 28 assists from junior setter Neil Bautista.
Junior middle blocker Justin Hong contributed nine kills for the Pioneers, who also got five kills and a team-high 13 digs from junior outside hitter Kenny Mejia.
"We experienced a tough road game in the first round, and got to play a home match against a tough team," Jimenez said.
Sage Hill sophomore outside hitter Bayle Smith contributed 14 kills for the Lightning, who got 34 assists from sophomore setter Michael Bear and 28 digs from freshman libero Mattias Russo-Larsson.