North Allegheny fends off Seneca Valley challenge, wins 4th straight WPIAL boys volleyball crown

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021 | 11:49 PM


The North Allegheny boys volleyball team defeated section rival Seneca Valley twice in the regular season, and it sought to add a third victory as the Tigers and Raiders met Wednesday evening to decide the WPIAL Class AAA title at Fox Chapel.

Seneca Valley, on the other hand, hoped to etch its place in history with its first WPIAL championship.

But the top-seeded Tigers wouldn’t hear of it.

North Allegheny rallied after losing the first game and defeated Seneca Valley 3-1 to claim its fourth consecutive WPIAL crown and its 21st overall in the storied history of the program.

“I thought the guys really showed a lot of maturity,” Tigers coach Dan Schall said.

“It was a match where things could’ve unraveled. Seneca Valley had an awesome crowd. We did too. I don’t know if my players heard a word I was saying from the sideline. Usually, communication is very clear. It was just an electric atmosphere, and we expected that with two rivals going at it for the title. There was a lot of pressure, and both teams showed a lot of resilience tonight and played really well.”

Seneca Valley won the first game, 25-22, before North Allegheny secured a pair of 25-23 wins in Games 2 and 3.

North Allegheny started strong in Game 4 as it built leads of 6-2 and 8-4. But Seneca Valley chipped away and grabbed its first lead of the game at 13-12. The Raiders went up by two on a kill from junior right side/middle blocker Nathan DeGraaf.

After a timeout, the Tigers went on a 6-0 run featuring a pair of kills from junior outside hitter Cole Dorn and an ace from senior outside hitter Michael Mosbacher.

Seneca Valley stayed close, pulling to within one on three occasions, but the Raiders were not able to tie the game or regain the lead.

A kill from senior David Sanfilippo and a Seneca Valley kill attempt that landed out of bounds set the table for the final point of the match.

Mosbacher punctuated the title victory with a kill that ended the game at 25-21. He didn’t have to wait long for his teammates on the court and on the bench to mob him in celebration.

“I remember being here as a sophomore (in 2019) sitting on the bench watching the older guys,” Mosbacher said. “To actually play in this game and help the team win a (WPIAL) title, it’s awesome. We’ve all really worked hard for this.”

Both the Tigers and Raiders now turn their attention to the PIAA playoffs, set to begin Tuesday.

The pairings are expected to be released Sunday after all of the district tournaments have been completed.

“I am very proud of the guys,” Seneca Valley coach Brett Poirier said. “Each time we‘ve played North Allegheny, we’ve gotten better. I was hoping to take them to five (games) and test them. No one has done that this year. But we fell just a little short.

“I’m sure we should see them again, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

North Allegheny will seek its third state title in as many seasons. It upended Central York in the 2019 Class AAA final and defeated Landisville Hempfield for PIAA gold in 2018.

“We have a little bit of a gap now, so we can kind of come down emotionally and reset,” Schall said. “This group has had big goals all year. (The WPIAL title) is a nice landmark, but it’s not the final destination.”

Sanfilippo led North Allegheny with 15 kills, while Mosbacher finished with 12. Dorn made a team-best five blocks, and junior setter Caleb Schall produced 50 assists.

Senior right side/outside hitter Michael Devlin fronted the Seneca Valley attack with 18 kills, while DeGraaf and junior outside hitter Dawson Ward tallied 13 kills apiece.

“There were a lot of good hitters putting the ball away,” Poirier said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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