North Allegheny handles pressure, sweeps Unionville for 7th straight PIAA volleyball crown

Saturday, November 18, 2023 | 9:19 PM

SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — North Allegheny and state girls volleyball championships are synonymous with each other.

North Allegheny won its seventh straight PIAA Class 4A title Saturday night with a sweep of Unionville at Cumberland Valley. Game scores were 25-18, 25-18, and 26-24.

The only loss this season for WPIAL champion North Allegheny (23-1) was to Hempfield, the District 3 champion, and the Tigers rallied to edge the Black Knights in the quarterfinals to avenge that setback.

“The pressure is always there when you win state championships, but the girls really responded well tonight,” said Tigers coach Russ Hoburg.

The first game went back and forth, tied numerous times until it was 12-12. Back-to-back kills by Ariana Schiller and Marin Dunaway gave the Tigers some space, and Dunaway and Jamie Frisco added several points to secure the Tigers’ victory.

Game 2 was a bit different as the Tigers jumped out to an 8-1 lead. They spread the ball around as at least five Tigers tallied points on kills. Molly Robertson set the tone for the Tigers.

The Longhorns never quit and got the game within two points at 18-16. Brianna Miller was solid for the Longhorns in the rally, as was Vivian Geiger. Kyra Schmidt had a huge hit for the Tigers, and after a couple of mistakes by Unionville, and the Tigers increased their advantage to 24-18. At game point, Jamie Frisco ripped a hit off the block for the victory.

The Longhorns (25-1) came out on fire in the third game and took a 9-2 lead. Leah Wiswall had several points, but the Tigers slowly responded.

“We really started out slow in that third game,” said Dunaway. “We have been down big before, and we just had to trust ourselves and our teammates to dig our way out. We played as well as we have as a team all year in those first two games. I am so proud of this team as we lost 10 seniors last year and will lose 10 this year.”

The Tigers finally got even at 19, then jumped out to a 23-22 lead before Schmidt pounded one down to get game point. Miller ripped one to the floor, but the Tigers won the final two points — the exclamation point being a game-point block by Alicia Mokube.

“We played really well in the first two games but struggled a bit in the third,” Schmidt said. “We moved the ball around well, and we played great defense to keep plays alive. I am so proud of this team and how hard they play.”

“We had a really good season, but tonight we ran into a better team,” said Unionville coach Stephanie Smith. “We had good runs, but sometimes a couple of mistakes is all it takes.”


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