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Purichia culminates his career in a memorable way

November 8—MUNCIE—It was a storybook ending for Grace Purichia.

The senior setter from Providence capped off her run in memorable fashion on Saturday night.

First, she and the Pioneers defeated Bellmont 25-15, 25-16, 22-25, 25-16 in the Class 3A state championship at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena to claim the program’s fourth title, and the first since 2015.

Second, he was able to share that with some of his best friends and his mom, Providence head coach Terri Purichia.

Then, to top it off, after the match, Purichia was named the Mental Attitude Award winner by the IHSAA Executive Committee.

“It was in the most perfect way possible (to finish my career),” he 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 Pioneers, who set records in kills (67) and batting percentage (.315).

“Grace is the teacher of our orchestra,” said Terri Purichia. “She does a great job of determining which of our hitters have a mismatch and delivering the ball so they can be successful. The strength of our team is balance, that’s the name of the game. When we’re able to put our hitters in situations one on one, they score. She studies film a lot and knows the other team very well and knows with every rotation what she can score. When she can get the ball in her hands, she can usually put in an area where a hitter can be successful I think he did a great job today trying to stay calm and helping his team stay calm, even when there was a little bit of pressure on us. I think he had a great game.”

Providence won the first two sets handily, outscoring Bellmont 50-31 behind Purichia.

The Braves rallied to take the third set by three points, but the Pioneers rallied from an early five-point deficit for a nine-point win 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 basically wiping the floor with them. We came out with so much intensity and so much love and passion. We just wanted to win. In the third set, that team stepped up, they started to have a game plan and it was working. But ultimately we decided that We loved each other too much to let this slip away. We just took it up a notch. We weren’t going to lose. We weren’t going home with sad tears. We were just going to win it for each other.”

It seemed only fitting that Purichia, who has been in the Providence program her entire life and is the only player in its history with 2,000 assists, 1,000 digs, 500 kills and 100+ aces, would end the match with a finisher: crushing Lilly. Tappel hit.

“(Coaches) hate every time I do that on the serve-receive, but I was like, ‘This is the perfect opportunity, I have to take it,'” Grace Purichia said afterward. “The pass was perfect and I took advantage of it. I had a lot of drive and said, ‘If I can finish this game right now, I will.’ So I did.”

“That was the perfect way to end it,” said Taylor Bansbach, the only other senior on the team. “She threw the ball and it hit the ground. Oh God, she’s going to make me cry again, it was amazing.”

After celebrating with his teammates on the court for a few moments, Purichia quickly found his mother. And just like the previous Saturday, following Providence’s five-set victory over Western Boone in the semi-state, mother and daughter shared a tearful hug on the court.

“It’s just amazing,” Grace Purichia said later. “This is so perfect and I’m so happy I did it with her and this team. It’s so amazing.”

Shortly thereafter, Purichia was announced as the winner of the Mental Attitude Award, given annually to a senior who “has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership, and athletic ability during their four years of high school.” .

“I was actually so surprised by that, I wasn’t expecting that at all,” she said. “That really gave me an overwhelming sense of joy and pride and I was so grateful to have received that award.”

Terri and Jeff’s daughter, Purichia has a 4.2 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society, as well as the Spanish Club and the PHS yearbook staff. She also volunteers at St. Elizabeth’s Home and Holy Family Parish.

“Grace works very, very hard,” said Terri Purichia. “This is like a fairy tale.

“I had no idea I had won that award and Jeff told me just before it was presented to him. He laughed and said, ‘I knew he had attitude, but I didn’t know he was mental.’ And we just laughed out loud. She is really a great girl and this is very important to her. She is everything our show tries to create and produce. She loves the Providence community very much. She loves being a student and she loves her teammates. I’m very, very happy for her because she was able to come out of it in this style and with these kids around her, supporting her, and the Mental Attitude (Award) is just the icing on the cake. High praise for her to really feel good about the work that 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 academic and volleyball career 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 a great honor to receive that and show this kind of leadership and this mindset for my school as well,” he said.

It was the perfect ending for Purichia.

“(It’s) pure happiness,” he said afterwards. “I have no thoughts, I am very overwhelmed at the moment. I am happy. I can’t stop crying, I keep hugging people and I am very happy.”

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