Canon-McMillan shocks North Allegheny for first WPIAL volleyball title

Saturday, November 2, 2019 | 10:50 PM

Entering the WPIAL Class AAAA girls volleyball championship between third-seeded Canon-McMillan and top-seeded and unbeaten North Allegheny, the Big Macs were big underdogs.

But Canon-McMillan pulled a major upset, ending the Tigers’ 65-match winning streak with a five-set victory Saturday and earning its first WPIAL title.

“This team has been rallying all season,” Big Macs coach Sheila Mitchell said. “We needed every point, and that’s what we talked about. (After the first set), your heads are down. But they just bounced back. Not one person is down on themselves. They’re never down to the point where we can’t come back.”

North Allegheny was going for the seventh title in program history, while Canon-McMillan was playing on the big stage for the first time.

Then North Allegheny, according to coach Heidi Miller, played its cleanest set of the season in the first set at Fox Chapel with a 25-11 win.

In the second set, the Big Macs took the last four points after trailing 23-21 to even the match.

North Allegheny won the third set 26-24 after scoring seven straight points and appeared to be closing in on a third straight WPIAL title.

But Canon-McMillan withstood some pushes in the fourth set by the Tigers and took it 25-17.

The Big Macs won the final set 15-12.

“One thing that we talked about in our gameplan was serving and getting them out of system,” Mitchell said. “We were able to capitalize.”

Junior Jenna Vogen had five service aces, 17 kills and 18 digs for the Big Macs.

“We came together as a team. It’s the best volleyball we’ve ever played,” Vogen said. “After (the third set), we just said ‘guys, we gotta move on.’ We just needed to focus on the next set.”

Morgan Galligan recorded 25 digs, five kills and 29 assists in the setting role for most of the match. Sam Parker, Abby Thornbury and Vicky Manda all had six kills.

Both teams advanced to the PIAA playoffs, which start next week.

Miller said North Allegheny knew Canon-Mac would play good defense, which it did. She also said she knew the Big Macs would try and take the Tigers out of their system.

“They played great defense. They made less mistakes than we did. We played the cleanest game we’ve played all year in Game 1, and we didn’t execute the rest of the match,” Miller said. “I think they did what a lot of other teams have tried to do to us. We have more volleyball to play, so we can’t let it affect us. Maybe this will be a kick in the butt. Give them credit. They played a great match.”

The title comes two days after the Big Macs’ boys’ soccer team won gold.

“It’s a great feeling. Everyone in the school is so amazing,” Vogen said. “This is the first one, so we’re all amazed. With soccer winning and this, we’re just so excited.”

Mitchell joked she might not be able to explain the championship without crying.

“We had a goal sheet at the beginning, and we crossed every single thing off that list,” said Mitchell. “They just want it.”

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