3 WPIAL teams will play for titles
North Allegheny, Freeport, Knoch win in semifinals
For the first time in PIAA history, the WPIAL will have three girls volleyball teams in the PIAA finals. North Allegheny, Freeport, and Knoch advanced to the championships Saturday at Johnstown Richland High School with semifinal victories Tuesday night.
North Allegheny (22-0) rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat defending champion Garnet Valley, 3-2, in a Class 4A semifinal held at State College. It’s the sixth title berth for North Allegheny, but its first since 2008.
For the second year in a row, Garnet Valley entered the state tournament as a fifth-place finisher from District 1. It looked as if the Jaguars would make a second consecutive appearance in the finals after recording narrow victories of 27-25 and 25-23 to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
North Allegheny fought back to tie the match at 2-2 with wins of 25-19 and 25-16. That set up an excitingc finish. Both teams served for match point three times after the set was tied at 14-14. The Tigers finally pulled out a 20-18 win with a block for the final point by Kayla Dinkins. Mika Logan led the Tigers with 18 kills.
“It was an epic battle,” North Allegheny coach Heidi Miller said. “It was nerve-wracking. I’m so proud of the girls.”
North Allegheny will face District 1 champion Bishop Shanahan, a 3-2 winner against District 11 champ Parkland, at 5 p.m. Saturday in the title match.
Freeport, the WPIAL runner-up in Class AA, earned its first PIAA title berth with a 3-1 win against WPIAL champion Beaver. The victory avenges the Yellow Jackets loss to the Bobcats in the WPIAL title match.
Freeport (20-4) jumped to a commanding 2-0 lead with wins of 25-22 and 25-19. Beaver (20-2) kept its hopes alive with a 25-19 win in the fourth set, but Freeport recorded a 25-18 win in the fourth set.
“We changed our complete rotation with the goal of slowing down Beaver’s middles,” Freeport coach Tom Phillips said. “We even did something that’s uncharacteristic for us, we used a triple block to slow down Macy [McElhaney].”
The strategy worked well as Freeport recorded 17 blocks. The Yellow Jackets also had a balanced offensive attack, as Hannah Mason and Allison DiJidas each recorded 12 kills.
Freeport will face District 3 champion Delone Catholic (20-0) in the title match Saturday at 1 p.m
In Class 3A, WPIAL champion Knoch and runner-up Montour met for the second time in the past 11 days, and the Knights posted its second victory. Knoch (23-0) earned its first PIAA title berth with a 25-19, 12-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-9 win against Montour (20-3). Sarah Armahizer led the Knights with 26 kills.
“[Montour] really came to play tonight,” Knoch coach Diane Geist said. “It was a real nail-biter. We had to play catch-up all night, but came through when we had to.”
Knoch will face defending state champion Allentown Central Catholic in the title match at 3 p.m. Saturday.
In Class 1A, District 11 champ Marian Catholic earned its fourth title berth in five years with a 3-1 win against Bishop Carroll. The Spartans will face District 10 champ Maplewood, a 3-0 winner over Clarion in its semifinal.