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Providence repeats as 3A champ in rematch with Bellmont

by Lewis Bagley, Special to
Posted: November 4, 2023
2023-24 VB 3A Photo 3
Photo Credit: Double Edge Media @demllc

MUNCIE - It seems the Class 3A state championship match proved to be more a matter of survival for Providence and Bellmont.

In the only matchup of the state finals of the No. 1 vs. No. 2 teams, as well as a rematch of last year's final, second-ranked Providence outlasted the No. 1 Braves, 3-1 (25-19, 31-29, 23-25, 25-21).

“I don’t think many people realize how difficult this was,” said victorious coach Terri Purichia. “We were able to compose ourselves and fight through things. We were fortunate to get out of this match in four sets; I saw a fifth set coming.”

The title is the second straight and the fifth in the last 11 seasons for the Providence program, which also had runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2016.

This one may well have been the most difficult.

“We’ve been the circle-on-the-calendar team for Bellmont all year,” Purichia said. “They were hungry to get back to this match and hoped it was us. You could see it in their eyes.” 

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The Providence Pioneers repeated as Class 3A state champions and won the program's fifth crown in the sport (Photo credits: Double Edge Media @demllc)


Both teams were short-handed in the match as Providence played without its second-leading hitter, Nicole Stratford, who injured a knee in last week’s semi-state. Bellmont, meanwhile, saw three players hobbled in the final, including setter Hailey Cole, her replacement Mary Kate Scheumann and defensive specialist Katie Mills.

“It was a compilation of problems for us,” Braves coach Craig Krull said, “but with three injuries, this was a hard match. We have no excuses. They played a more well-rounded match and did the things they were supposed to do.”

It was a bitterly disappointing loss for Bellmont (34-3) considering it’s the third-straight defeat in a state title match. The Braves had beaten, in order, the Nos. 5, 4 and 3 teams in the regional and semistate rounds.

“It’s a wonderful experience to get here, but it’s going to take time for us to get over this,” Krull said.

Providence (31-5) came out strong in set one, scoring the first four points and eventually holding a lead as large as 18-10. Brooklyn Borden closed out the set with an ace. The Pioneers had eight aces in the match, three each by Borden and Lilly Kaiser.

It proved to be the second set that was the difference. The marathon set saw 15 ties and nine lead changes. There were only five lead changes in the other three sets combined.

Bellmont led, 20-16, before the Pioneers roared back behind Borden’s serving to take a 21-20 lead. It was back-and-forth the rest of the way with both teams having opportunities to serve for the match. It wasn’t until Borden stepped up to serve out the final two points – the set-winner another ace – to give Providence a two-set lead.

“The second set was just huge,” Purichia confirmed. “It had been an emotional week for us and I saw our energy disappearing. We started to make great defensive plays and our energy started shifting back.”

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Bellmont's Hailey Cole (18) and Alyssa Gumbel (12) go up for the block on Providence's Lilly Kaiser (5) (Photo credit: Double Edge Media @demllc).


Bellmont didn’t go easily as it came back to take set three, but Providence broke from a 4-4 tie early in set four to build a lead as large as 20-13 before settling for the final margin. Makenzie Wagner’s team-high 15th kill closed out the match.

Lilly Tappel added 14 kills and a team-high 13 digs for the winners, while Reese Carver dished out 31 assists.

Delaney Lawson led all hitters with 22 kills and Scheumann added 16. Sami Christen had 22 digs for the Braves. 

Mental Attitude Award presented to Providence’s Lilly Tappel

Following the match, Lilly Tappel of Providence High School was announced as the recipient of the Mental Attitude Award by the IHSAA Executive Committee.

Lilly is a member of the National Honor Society and is also an Academic Tutor at Providence High School, while maintaining a 3.96 GPA through Advanced Placement, Dual Credit and college level courses.

She is an exceptional athlete, participating in volleyball at Providence. Lilly has also been named a 2023 News and Tribune Athlete of the Week. 

She is the daughter of Scott and Penny Tappel of Lanesville, IN and is interested in studying Dental Hygiene but is currently undecided on where she wants to attend college. Lilly joins former Providence teammate Grace Purichia who was last year’s recipient of this award.

The Mental Attitude Award is annually presented to a senior, who is nominated by her principal and coach, and has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability during her four years of high school.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, a corporate partner of the IHSAA, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Our Lady of Providence High School’s general scholarship fund in the name of Lilly Tappel.

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The Pioneers' Lilly Tappel was named the recipient of the Mental Attitude Award following the match (Photo credit: Double Edge Media @demllc).