North Allegheny earns revenge, beats Baldwin for WPIAL 4A volleyball title

Saturday, November 3, 2018 | 8:15 PM

There was recent history that couldn’t be ignored when top-seeded North Allegheny and No. 2 Baldwin took the court for the WPIAL Class AAAA girls volleyball title game Saturday afternoon.

Two years ago, the Highlanders entered the postseason as a No. 8 seed and busted everyone’s bracket with an upset over No. 1 North Allegheny on their way to the WPIAL title match.

“Three years in a row,” said North Allegheny coach Heidi Miller recalling how times Baldwin ended the Tigers postseason. “There are only a few girls on this team that were playing back when they beat us a few years in a row … but they have that hunger for this one. The (playing) Baldwin at Baldwin memories are not good ones.”

The Tigers started a new batch of memories at Fox Chapel instead as No. 1 North Allegheny proved what everyone in Class 4A knew all season with an overwhelming 3-0 win over No. 2 Baldwin to claim it’s sixth WPIAL title and second in a row.

“It’s hard to win, and it’s hard to win twice,” Miller said. “You paint a big target on your back to kind of be the team to beat.”

The Tigers downed the Highlanders in straight sets, 25-9, 25-15 and 26-24.

North Allegheny (18-0) moves on to the PIAA Class 4A bracket, where the Tigers will face District 10 champ McDowell, and Baldwin will meet District 6 champion State College. Both matchups are set for Tuesday with start times and locations to be determined.

“North Allegheny, we knew for sure that they were the best team for sure in 4A and there was no doubt about that,” said Baldwin coach Chris Kelly. “I don’t think that my team represented themselves very well. We did in the third set.”

The match had a different tone in the third set.

Baldwin finally figured out how to defend against sophomore Anna Sprys from the front row. The Highlanders came out took a 3-2 lead in the final set on a kill by Allison Murray. Murray finished with seven kills on the night. A combination of North Allegheny hitting errors and and timely kills kept Baldwin afloat.

North Allegheny’s Abby Miller helped serve the Tigers to a 4-0 run to extend their lead to 16-10. The Higlanders’ Anna Baloh brought Baldwin back with a 5-0 service run to tie the set at 20-20.

Two North Allegheny net violations and a Hanna Montross serve down the line put Baldwin up 24-22 before North Allegheny made its final run. Anna Sprys notched one of her team-high 10 kills to end Baldwin’s serve and an ace by Miller set the Tiger up for a championship block by Sprys and Paige Morningstar for the championship.

North Allegheny came out in the first set and dominated at the net. Sprys tallied six kills in the first set.

“I was feeling it,” said Sprys. “The adrenaline was definitely pumping. We knew they had some good offensive weapons and we just kept keying in on them.”

Baldwin jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the second set before Sprys broke Mia Hampsay’s serve with the Tigers trailing 4-2. Sprys drilled an ace down the line to tie the set at 4-4 to start a 4-0 run and steal the Highlanders momentum.

“We know what we got, when we’re good , we’re hard to beat,” Miller said.

Game scores: 25-9, 25-15, 26-24

Leading players: NA: Anna Sprys (10 kills), Paige Morningstar (6 kills), Paige Miller (6 kills); B: Allison Murray (7 kills), McKenzie Meis (4 service points).

Records: NA: 18-0; B: 15-2

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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