North Allegheny captures 4th straight PIAA boys volleyball title

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Saturday, June 11, 2022 | 5:16 PM


STATE COLLEGE — State College was the center of the PIAA volleyball world again Saturday as the top two teams in Pennsylvania squared off for the PIAA Class 3A boys volleyball title at Rec Hall.

North Allegheny won its fourth state title in five years by defeating Central Dauphin, 3-1, with game scores of 23-25, 25-16, 25-12 and 25-23.

North Allegheny also beat Central Dauphin, 3-1, last year for the title, becoming the first team to win three titles with a pandemic year in between. The Tigers won in 2018, 2019 and 2021 with the 2020 season canceled.

Central Dauphin (22-1) has been ranked in the top 10 nationally all season and had only dropped one game on its way to the championship game.

The Tigers (18-1), whose only loss was to Seneca Valley (they also beat the Raiders twice), had to rebuild their team as they only returned three starters from last year’s championship squad. To be back in the state championship having to rebuild has been an impressive feat to coach Dan Schall and the youngsters who have stepped into those roles.

“I know not many people expected us to be here, but I see what goes on in our workouts,” Schall said. “We have guys who do not see the court much, because we are a wait-your-turn team. I knew what we had returning even if the public did not see these guys on the court. I am not surprised we are here today.”

Central Dauphin took the lead at 4-3 in Game 1 and held it throughout the contest. North Allegheny kept the game within a couple of points, with the largest lead being four points. A net serve finally gave the Rams the win at 25-23.

North Allegheny took an early lead at 6-5 and stretched the lead to 14-10 in Game 2. The Tigers led 18-12, prompting a Rams timeout — six points being their largest deficit of the season. North Allegheny did a better job of finding the open hitter with the advantage. Nico Sfeir and Cole Dorn did a solid job of getting points. The Tigers won 25-16 to even the match at 1-1.

The Tigers jumped out behind Jack Birch and Dorn to take a 14-5 lead in Game 3. Led by solid defense and hitting, Dorn and Sfier took over to finish the game at 25-12. Setter Caleb Schall was outstanding for the Tigers, but it was certainly a team effort, from servers to hitters to blockers.

“This is special; we don’t take anything for granted here at North Allegheny,” Caleb Schall said. “We don’t take getting here for granted; this group is awesome.”

Dorn added: “This is just as special, maybe more today since there were questions of whether I was even going to be able to play today. Winning is a tradition here, and the pressure is certainly there, but we have to deal with it.”

The Rams were bothered by unforced errors and misplays throughout Game 2 and 3, something they have not had to deal with this season.

North Allegheny took a 9-6 lead in Game 4, but the Rams came back to take a 14-12 advantage. The game was tied five times when Dorn was able to put two points away to give the Tigers a 23-21 lead. A Sfier kill ended the contest and set off the Tigers’ celebration.

“Titus LaMay was special with that serve. He gets into a groove and hits harder and harder,” Coach Schall said. “You need to take risks to serve before the ball comes back down your throat.”

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