3 WPIAL teams will play for ti­tles

North Al­legheny, Freeport, Knoch win in semi­fi­nals

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Sports -

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.

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