North Allegheny sweeps Bishop Shanahan to capture PIAA Class 4A volleyball championship

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Saturday, November 18, 2017 | 7:39 PM


Every member of the North Allegheny girls volleyball team wasn't born when the program last won a PIAA championship.

The Tigers captured three straight Class AAA crowns from 1992-94.

But this year's squad ended that drought in a big way with a three-game sweep of District 1 champion Bishop Shanahan, 25-21, 25-12 and 25-16, in the Class AAAA championship match Saturday evening at Richland High School.

North Allegheny coach Heidi Miller didn't expect the match to be so decisive. The Eagles came in 25-0 overall.

“Our kids have played well all year, and this is, hands down, the best they've played,” Miller said. “We're balanced with a lot of offensive weapons. When we pass well, we're very hard to stop. We've struggled at times to be a good blocking team, but we blocked very well tonight.”

The volleyball team's state title is the third for North Allegheny this fall. The Tigers girls tennis and golf teams also brought home WPIAL gold.

When North Allegheny won its three straight state titles in the early 90s, Heidi Miller's father in law, Bob, was the head coach.

“He's still in the gym with us every day, and his granddaughters are on the team,” Heidi Miller said. “It's a great feeling to add to that winning tradition. It's something special.”

The Tigers completed a WPIAL sweep on Saturday, as Freeport and Knoch brought home state titles in Class AA and AAA, respectively.

This comes on the heels of the WPIAL winning only three state championships in all classifications from 2007 to last year.

For Bishop Shanahan, the loss capped a season where the team thrived despite a number of injuries that shook up the lineup.

“To go undefeated in our area of volleyball is amazing,” Eagles coach Greg Ashman said.

“We didn't get this far last year, but we made it this year, and hopefully, we can build on this.”

Game 1 featured several ties early on before North Allegheny grabbed the lead for good at 16-15 on an Eagles net violation.

Kills from Avery Tuman and Anna Sprys gave the Tigers a 23-18 lead. Then, two Bishop Shanahan miscues — a serve into the net and a serve that sailed long — put North Allegheny in the win column.

The Tigers seized on the momentum built from Game 1. They forced a pair of Eagles timeouts at 12-9 and 19-10 in Game 2 and kept rolling.

Kills from Kayla Dinkins and Paige Miller got North Allegheny close, and a block by Dinkins ended it.

Bishop Shanahan tried to stay in the match and got as close as 10-7 in Game 3, but the Tigers were not to be denied.

A kill by Tuman, a Sprys block and two more kills from Dinkins extended North Allegheny's lead to 20-12.

Dinkins later drove home a kill to make it 23-15, and Paige Miller ended it with a kill and a service ace.

“This feels amazing,” Dinkins said. “It's so great how we were able to come together as a team and play so well. We knew Bishop Shanahan was a great team, but we knew that if we played our game, we would be OK.”

Senior hitter Mika Logan led North Allegheny with nine kills, while Sprys and Dinkins had eight kills apiece. Dinkins also finished with six blocks.

Senior defensive specialist Julia Patzak contributed three service aces.

“This team has the best chemistry of any team I've ever coached,” Miller said. “They are great kids, and I am so proud of them.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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