September 22nd, 2020

Helmers powers Assumption past Pioneers

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Helmers powers Assumption past Pioneers
Providence's Anna Purichia tries to find an opening in the Assumption defense (photo by Eric Thorne)

CLARKSVILLE (IN) – It was a volleyball boarder war on Tuesday night at Providence High School where the Indiana side Pioneers gave their Kentucky rival Assumption all they could handle. The Rockets fought off each comeback for a 25-20, 21-25, 29-27, 25-23 victory.

Assumption (8-1) nearly saw things go the other way in the third set as Providence (14-6) failed to seize the opportunity with two set points at 25-24 and 26-25. A couple of miscues hurt the Pioneers before Sydney Helmers big kill gave the Rockets the set.

The 6-foot-3 opposite hitter also was provided the key block on the final point of set one. Helmers, a sophomore, finished with 21 kills and a pair of blocks in the match.

“I think focusing as a team and not induvial play will be key for us like tonight,” Helmers said. “I have to concentrate on the basics and not get overwhelmed especially when coach is yelling because I tend to do that. I need to stay calm and just compete.”

Assumption coach Ron Kordes and Providence coach Terri Purichia both know a few things about pressure and motivating their teams.

Kordes, who has been coaching the Rockets since 1998, has won 22 state championships and has compiled a 1,147-115 record.

“Games like this puts more age on me each week which I don’t need,” Kordes said. “That team over there has too much Purichia in them and they don’t quit. She has some real athletes over there and can really run balls down.”

On the other side is Purichia who has won three state championships in 23 years with an impressive record of her own at 603-184.

The two may have considered retiring at some moments of their stellar careers, but what a Covid-19 limiting crowd saw was coaching at its finest.

Set one saw seven ties and two lead changes with five being the larges advantage. With Ali Hornung delivering a 17-17 block for Providence, it was Rocket senior Caroline Cermack rallying her squad with three kills and two blocks to seal the set.

The second set saw Providence grab a 5-4 lead on an Assumption hit error, and never relinquished the lead except for a 7-7 tie. Hornung had six kills in the set and Lydia Rush raced cross the court to deliver a crushing kill for the Pioneers and a 22-19 lead. Emma Kaelin’s service ace then closed out the set.

Set three continued the back and forth tilt between he squads that featured 11 ties and four lead changes.

Assumption lead much of the set until Providence battled its was to a with in 20-19, but when his team hit a ball into the net he had seen enough and called timeout slamming his clipboard on his hand and gathered the girls around him and delivered a fiery speech.

“We’re a little too inconsistent and sometimes just let teams back in,” Kordes said. “Consistency will be key, and we’ve done that a lot this year, but we have to make better runs at teams. We are capable but have a lot of first year varsity players. Our setters have to get better of letting Sydney get up on the net because she is so big and has the arm.”

Terri Purichia drew energy from her team’s relentless effort and the Pioneers responded forcing Assumption into more uncharacteristic errors. Kaelin served up another ace for a 25-24 lead only to see her ensuing one sail long out of bounds.

Hornung gave Providence another lead at 26-25, but errors came back to haunt them and Helmers finished the set with another powerful kill.

That seemed to take the wind out of the Providence team as they fell behind 12-3 in set four.

“I think that was a really big disappointment for them getting so close in set three only to have it slip away in the end,” Terri Purichia said. “They started the last set down but give them credit they never dropped their heads and dug down to battle back.”

It was Hornung, Anna Puirchia and Rush that kept chipping away until the Pioneers had drawn even at 21-21.

But for every rally the Pioneers threw at them Cermack and Helmers had an answer. The two big hitters at the net blocked and killed nearly everything that came their way. Cermack finished with 11 kills.

“They played a good match but there are some little things we need to correct ourselves like on the serve line and our blocking as well,” Cermack said. “Once we made some adjustments throughout, we did well.  We’ve been in some tight situations this year, but we had to stay calm and go back to what we knew how to do best.”

Providence had one last gasp as Anna Purichia’s kill made it 22-22 and an Assumption error relinquished the lead. But Lydia Stephen delivered consecutive kills for the Rockets to close out the match.

Hornung led Providence with 24 kills and 11 digs.  Anna Purichia drove home 11 kills while younger sister Grace, a sophomore setter, came up with nine digs and had 33 assists.

 “I said earlier this season we would live and die with our service game, and tonight we died,” Terri Purichia said. “But I told the girls that you only have a few opportunities to take a team like Assumption to five set or win, and they took that upon themselves to really give an impressive effort. I’m really pleased with this team right now.”


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