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Providence High’s volleyball season of obstacles ends with loss in 4A state finals

Steve Lyttle, Langston Wertz Jr.
·3 min read

A season of seemingly endless obstacles ended with a loss Saturday for the Providence High girls’ volleyball team in the 4A state championship match.

And the Panthers had one final obstacle thrown their way in a 3-0 set loss to Cardinal Gibbons at Green Level High.

They had to play without their head coach, Maggie Malone, who woke up Saturday “not feeling well.” She was relegated to watching the match on television.

It carried on a theme set at the start of the playoffs, when Providence learned it would have to win all but one of its playoff matches on the road, if it hoped to reach the finals. And the shutdown of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools athletics, except for volleyball and cross-country, threw a scare into the team, when it appeared as if their sport would be affected too.

Assistant coach Clarke Glendenning filled in Saturday, but she and the Panthers (18-1) had no answer for a strong Cardinal Gibbons team (17-0) -- and especially the Crusaders’ Emily Chrysogelos.

Chrysogelos finished with 22 kills, two more than the entire Providence team, and the match fittingly ended with a Chrysogelos kill.

“We tried to do things to deal with their big player,” Malone said of Chrysogelos. “But they had the answer.”

Providence entered the match off a 3-2 victory over four-time defending state champion Green Hope in Tuesday’s semifinals, but the Panthers never seemed to get on solid footing against the Crusaders.

“I think our service made a difference,” Chrysogelos said. “They (Panthers) have a physical middle, and our serves helped negate that.”

Cardinal Gibbons trailed 3-2 in the first set but rallied for five straight points and was in front for nearly the rest of the match. Chrysogelos had nine kills in the first set, which the Crusaders won 25-17.

The Crusaders broke to a quick 7-2 lead in the second set, and after Providence narrowed the gap to 10-6, Cardinal Gibbons went on a 10-7 run, thanks to three Chrysogelos kills. She finished the 25-14 victory with a kill.

Providence played tough for a while in the third set and was tied 6-6. But two Providence errors, a Chrysogelos kill, and a soft tap for a point by Vivan Chapman made it 10-6. The Crusaders gradually pulled away and won 25-13. The final point was a Chrysogelos kill.

Malone said the Panthers started slow in a couple other road playoff matches, and she hoped maybe Saturday would be more of the same.

“After that first set, I thought, ‘We can do this. We can come back,’ ” she said. “But it just wasn’t our day today.”

Cardinal Gibbons negated Providence senior standout Madison Cail, who did not have a kill in the match. Ella Tassy and Gabby LaPata led the Panthers with six kills apiece. Cail was still a force at the net, however, with six blocks.

“I’m happy this is the season I’m ending on,” senior Katie Cruise said.

“Every game, we brought our all,” Cail added. “We beat some teams that people didn’t expect us to beat.”

Glendenning added, “Today’s match was not a reflection of who we are. We lost to a very good team, but our team is something special.”

It was the 11th state championship in volleyball for Cardinal Gibbons, which is the second most in NCHSAA to Hendersonvile, which has 12.

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle

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