PROVIDENCE — Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ volleyball Coach Miguel Segura informed his team about a pertinent piece of information prior to its nonleague match Tuesday against Providence.
The coach reminded his players that the Guards had not lost to the cross-town rival Pioneers since 2006.
Behind the play of seniors Taryn Nelson and Mariah Bankhead, Bell-Jeff increased that winning streak to six with a 25-22, 25-14, 25-18 victory at Providence.
The last time the Pioneers defeated the Guards was in 2006 under former coach James Jimenez, as they posted a 25-20, 25-16, 25-20 victory. At a time during the late-1990s into the last decade, Providence dominated the rivalry, winning eight straight.
“I made sure they knew that streak coming in,” said Segura, whose team is ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division IV-A. “I coached two of the Providence girls on their team at St. [Robert Bellarmine Catholic Elementary School] and their team beat us during the summer. So, that was all motivation for us in this one.”
With the 6-foot-2 Bankhead patrolling the net and Nelson getting her share of kills from the back row, the Guards (6-7) were hard to stop. Both players ended the match with 10 kills each.
Nelson, a four-year starter, has never lost to the Pioneers (4-4).
“This was a big win for us, definitely,” said Nelson, an all-league outside hitter who also had 12 digs Tuesday. “We came out a little weak, but we reorganized ourselves and we were able to play better. We just wanted to come out and beat them, especially in their house.
“But I was really proud of the way that we played. I give a lot of credit to my teammates.”
Senior Victoria Rodarte added 11 digs and junior Amanda Maalouf had 23 assists for Bell-Jeff.
Providence’s best showing came in the opening game. The Pioneers took an early lead until the Guards forged out in front, 10-9, on a Pioneers hitting error. Bell-Jeff didn’t relinquish the lead until the Pioneers went in front, 15-14, on a Guards error.
Providence increased its advantage to 17-14 until unforced errors began to take their toll. The Guards embarked on a 7-0 run and turned things around with a 21-17 advantage. The Pioneers would only get to within two points of the lead, 24-22, after that point.
“We were right there in that first game and I thought we had them figured out pretty well,” Providence Coach Josh Eggleston said. “I think that some of our unforced errors kinda hurt us. But overall I’m OK with our performance today.”
The Pioneers received five kills from senior Bea Yousucio.
The Guards led the entire way in the second game, distancing themselves from their rival mid-way through the stanza.
The Pioneers enjoyed a brief lead, 11-10, in the third game. However, the Guards came back to end the threat and close out the match.
Bankhead, who is a starter on the Guards’ basketball team, is in only her second year of organized volleyball after joining the Guards last season as a junior.
“Mariah has been leading us in kills all season,” Segura said. “But we really couldn’t get the ball to her like we wanted today and Taryn took over. When one might not be having a great game, it’s nice to have the other one to go to.”