By Rick Assad
It went according to form on Tuesday afternoon when the Providence High boys’ volleyball team took the floor against winless Chadwick.
The Pioneers had three more players than the Dolphins and two of them are extremely tall and they are 6-foot-8 middle blocker Mark Karroum, who comes off the bench and 6-5 senior middle blocker Nicholas Stoliker, who is a starter.
The visiting Dolphins have just eight players and because the school doesn’t have a junior varsity team, anyone must play at the varsity level.
All of these factors stacked the deck in Providence’s favor as the Pioneers swept the Dolphins 25-15, 25-7, 25-17 in a Prep League match and remained undefeated in league.
“We had one of our outside hitters, Brett Adams, back on the court for the first time today after an early season injury over a month ago. He performed better than I expected, scoring eight kills today,” Providence coach Mario Adriano said. “I’m confident he’ll be back in his groove by the end of the week when we face off against another league opponent, Rio Hondo Prep.”
Adriano liked what he saw versus the Dolphins (0-11 and 0-4 in league).
“Overall, I’m happy with the team’s performance today,” he said. “Our setter [junior Ethan Bornoff, who has 26 assists] was diversifying threats and giving opportunities to our middles who historically haven’t been able to contribute offensively due to our serve receive and scramble play,” he said.
The initial set was tied at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3 before Providence went on a 7-2 surge and led 10-5 on a kill from senior outside hitter Gunnar Petrone, who had five kills and three aces.
Providence took a 16-6 lead on senior middle blocker/outside hitter Charles Wehrenberg’s ace as the Dolphins called time out.
“I was glad to see one of our main middles, [Wehrenberg], has maintained his quick tempo connection with our stellar setter, [Bornoff], as he transitioned back today from playing outside hitter the last few weeks,” Adriano said.
Sophomore opposite hitter Ronin Pingul’s tapper made it 18-11 in favor of the Pioneers (12-6-1 and 3-0 in league).
Petrone’s kill extended the cushion to 19-11 and Wehrenberg’s tapper made it 22-14.
When senior outside hitter Adams added a winner, the Pioneers pulled ahead one game to none.
The second set was the most lopsided even though it was close early as a kill from Chadwick’s sophomore outside hitter Connor Jordan, who is the Dolphins’ best player, evened it at 2-2.
Jordan’s spike leveled it at 5-5, but the Pioneers scored six points for an 11-5 lead on an ace from Petrone.
The Dolphins drew within 11- 7 on an error by the Pioneers, but the hosts then went on a 14-0 streak for the second set.
Key points came from Wehrenberg who served four aces that made it 15-7, 19-7, 22-7 and 25-7.
The final set began with the Pioneers rushing to a 7-0 lead as Stoliker’s kills made it 4-0 and 6-0.
Stoliker’s service ace pushed the margin 10-4 and a winner from Adams made it 14-8 as the Dolphins requested time out.
Wehrenberg’s push handed the Pioneers a 20-12 advantage and back-to-back aces from Wehrenberg made it 22-12.
Karroum’s dagger catapulted Providence’s lead to 24-17 and when sophomore middle hitter Patrick Dempsey’s serve sailed out of bounds, the gaffe clinched the set and match.
Providence will have a few tougher games ahead.
“We have a big challenge coming up when we play undefeated Pasadena Poly in a few weeks, and after today, I am feeling much more confident in our prospects for that game,” Adriano said.