North Allegheny living up to its top-ranked billing
Tri-State Sports & News Service
The North Allegheny boys volleyball team was perfect in match play during the first half of the season. The Tigers faced seven opponents, including six in Class 3A Section 2, and recorded 3-0 sweeps in all seven matches.
“Our balanced attack has been the key to our success,” North Allegheny coach Dan Schall said. “We’ve have eight different hitters record kills in each match. And at least four have had 7-12 kills in each match. Our setters have done a great job of spreading the ball to our hitters.”
North Allegheny entered the season ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class 3A. Since then, the Tigers have beat all but one of the teams below them in the rankings. The most impressive was the Tigers sweep of No. 2ranked Seneca Valley, 25-16, 25-15, 25-21, on April 13.
“Seneca Valley is a really solid team,” Schall said. “We served and passed well and took advantage of our balanced offensive attack.”
M.J. Barton and A.J. Schmidt have split the setting duties for North Allegheny. Canyon Tuman has been the Tigers top hitter.
North Allegheny began the second half Thursday night against Shaler.
South Park took over sole possession of first place in Class 2A Section 3 with last week’s 3-1 win against Thomas Jefferson. The Eagles finished the first half of section play with a 5-0 record, while the Jaguars dropped to 4-1.
“Coming into the season, I thought we had a good chance of winning the section title,” South Park coach Kameron Smith said. “We only had one senior on last year’s team and he had to sit out with an injury. So we had a very experienced squad coming back.”
South Park also has a tournament title to its credit. The Eagles won the North Hills tournament April 1.
“It’s the first tournament we’ve won since I became head coach five years ago,” Smith said. “It may be the first tournament title in school history.”
The key to South Park’s success has been the play of three seniors: setter Aaron Walker, middle hitter Dan Morgret and outside hitter Hunter Rock.
“Aaron, Dan and Hunter are all four-year starters,” Smith said. “They are our captains, and the heart and soul of our team.”
Cal Fisher is considered one of the top players in the WPIAL, but the 6-2 junior could not play until this year. Fisher attends Riverview, a high school that does not sponsor a boys volleyball program.
“Riverview contacted us and asked if they could form a co-op with us,” Penn Hills coach Jay Mitlo said. “Cal deserves a chance to play high school volleyball and we wanted to give him that opportunty.”
Fisher, a setter/rightside hitter, comes from a volleyball family. His mother, Charlotte, played professionally in Spain for a year and was an all-conference player at Eastern Kentucky. His two older sisters, Hannah and Arden, played in college.
“He’s arguably a firstteam player,” said Mitlo, referring to the WPIAL Class 3A all-star team. “He’s improved everybody’s play. And he’s not just a great player. He’s also a great kid who has a 3.75 grade-point average.”
Penn Hills entered Tuesday’s match against Plum with a 2-4 record in Class 3A Section 3.
Montour, Ambridge, Derry Area and North Allegheny are entered in Saturday’s Koller Classic, a 16team tournament at Central York High School that is considered one of the top tournaments in the state.
“The Koller Classic gives us a chance to face some of the top teams in the state,” Montour coach Mike Vavrek. “In pool play, we will be facing Northeastern, the top team in the PVCA Class 2A rankings; Central Dauphin, the No. 3-ranked team in Class 3A; State College; and Cambridge Springs.”
North Allegheny, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3A, is the favorite.
“The Koller Classic is one of the top tournaments in the state,” Schall said. “Most of the top tournaments are either east or west dominated. This tournament has some of the top teams from both sides of the state. That’s why it’s so appealing to us. It helps to prepare us for the postseason tournaments.”
North Allegheny and Ambridge are in the same pool, along with York Suburban, Penn Manor and Maplewood.