November 8 – MUNCIE – It was the end of a storybook for Grace Purichia.
The Providence senior setter capped off her career in memorable fashion on Saturday night.
Above all, she and the Pioneers defeated Bellmont 25-15, 25-16, 22-25, 25-16 in the Class 3A State Championship Game at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena to claim the fourth title. of the program, and the first since 2015.
Second, she was able to share this with some of her best friends and her mother, Providence head coach Terri Purichia.
Then, to top it all off, after the match, Purichia was named the recipient of the Mental Attitude Award by the IHSAA Executive Committee.
“It was in the most perfect way possible (to end my career),” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud or happy.”
Purichia finished with a final 3A state record of 56 assists, 16 digs and three kills for the Trailblazers, who set records in kills (67) and completion percentage (.315).
“Grace is the maestro of our orchestra,” said Terri Purichia. “She does a great job of figuring out which of our hitters have a lag and delivering the ball so they can get it. Our team’s strength is balance, that’s the name of the game. When we’re able to put our hitters in one-on-one situations, they score. She studies film so much and she knows the other team so well and she knows every rotation what can score. When she’s able to put the ball between her hands she can usually put in an area that a hitter can be successful in. I think she did a great job today trying to stay calm and helping her team stay calm even when there was a bit pressure on us. I think she had a great game.”
Providence won the first two sets easily, beating Bellmont 50-31, behind Purichia’s precise setting.
The Braves bounced back to win the third set by three points, but the Pioneers rallied from an early five-point deficit for a nine-point triumph in the fourth.
“We came out like gangbusters,” said Grace Purichia, who had 11 assists in the first set, 15 in the second, 14 in the third and 16 in the fourth. “We were just wiping the floor with them. We came out with so much intensity and so much love and passion. We just wanted to win so much. In the third set, this team, they stepped it up , they started having a game plan and it was working. But eventually we just decided we loved each other too much to let it slip away. We just took it up a notch. We weren’t going to lose. We weren’t going to lose. We weren’t going to go home with sad tears. We were just going to earn it for each other.
It seemed only fitting that Purichia, who has been part of the Providence program her entire life and is the only player in its history with 2,000 assists, 1,000 digs, 500 eliminations and over 100 aces, finished the game with a kill – slamming Lilly Tappel’s bump.
“(Coaches) hate it every time I do this on serve-reception, but I was like, ‘This is the perfect opportunity, I have to take it,'” Grace Purichia said afterwards. “The pass was perfect and I fell on it. I had so much momentum and I was like, ‘If I can finish this game now, I will. So I did.”
“It was the best way to finish,” said Taylor Bansbach, the team’s only other senior. “She threw that ball and it hit the ground. Oh my god, that’s gonna make me cry again, that was amazing.”
After celebrating with her teammates on the floor for a few moments, Purichia quickly reunited with her mother. And just like the previous Saturday, following Providence’s five-set victory over Western Boone in the Half-State, mother and daughter shared a tear-filled embrace on the court.
“It’s just amazing,” Grace Purichia said later. “It’s so perfect and I’m so happy to have been able to do it with her and this team. It’s so amazing.”
Shortly after, Purichia was announced as the recipient of the Mental Attitude Award, which is given annually to a senior citizen who has “demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability over the course of of his four years of high school”.
“I was actually so shocked by it, I didn’t expect it at all,” she said. “It really gave me a huge sense of joy and pride and I was very grateful to have received this award.”
Purichia, Terri and Jeff’s daughter, has a 4.2 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society, as well as the Spanish Club and Yearbook Staff of PHS. In addition, she does volunteer work at Sainte-Élisabeth House and at Sainte-Famille Parish.
“Grace works very, very hard,” Terri Purichia said. “It’s like a fairy tale.
“I had no idea she had won this award and Jeff told me just before they presented it to her. He laughed and said, ‘I knew she had attitude, but I didn’t know it was mental.’ And we just fell in love. She’s just a really good kid and that’s so important to her. She’s everything our program is trying to create and produce. She loves the Providence community so much. She loves being a student and she loves her teammates. I’m very, very happy for her that she was able to come out in this style and with these children around her, who support her, and the Mental Attitude (Award) is just the icing on the cake. a great reward for her to feel really good about the work she has done to be a student, to be an athlete and to be a young woman with a strong character.”
Grace Purichia, who will continue her college and volleyball careers at Jacksonville State University in Alabama next fall, is the sixth girl from Providence to win the Mental Attitude Award. She joins Diana Zipp (2001), current Pioneers assistant coach Charly (Day) Neal (2002), Abby Spitznagel (2013), Patricia Mattingly (2014) and Audrey Shannon (2015).
“It’s such an honor to receive this and to show that kind of leadership and mentality for my school as well,” she said.
It was the perfect ending for Purichia.
“(It’s) pure bliss,” she said afterwards. “I have no thoughts, I’m just very overwhelmed right now. I’m just happy. I can’t stop crying, I just keep hugging people and I’m so happy.”