North Allegheny tops Bethel Park for 19th WPIAL boys volleyball title

Thursday, May 24, 2018 | 11:18 PM

The winningest program in WPIAL boys volleyball history added another title to the list Thursday night.

Top-seeded North Allegheny won its second consecutive WPIAL title and 19th overall with a 3-1 victory over No. 2 Bethel Park in the Class AAA finals at Baldwin.

The Tigers won 25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 25-14 for their 13 title in the last 16 years.

“It's the first for this group, and we always look at it in that way,” North Allegheny coach Dan Schall said. “It was good to see the guys step up and carry the load a little more than maybe they had to in previous years. I'm truly happy for this group.”

After a tight third set, North Allegheny pulled away in the fourth and Canyon Tuman, a 6-foot-7 Penn State recruit, slammed the ball over the net from the back row to finish off the match.

“We gave them the best shot we had, but they were just stronger than us tonight,” Bethel Park coach Zach Smith said. “They can attack from everywhere. They're a tough team to defend.”

Both teams advanced to the PIAA playoffs. Butler also advanced with a 25-15, 25-20, 26-24 victory over Seneca Valley in the consolation game.

After North Allegheny controlled the first set, Bethel Park, which was seeking its first title, clawed back in the second. A pair of kills by Max Cooley gave the Black Hawks the lead 21-20, and Dylan Schanck added two more kills to close out the Tigers and even the match. Cooley had 15 kills for the Black Hawks. Mason Bussard added 11 kills.

“I thought we had nice spacing in Game 2, but we had some errors that let them back in, and then they started rolling,” Schall said. “We just had a message of resilience and to enjoy the challenge that was presented.

Both teams battled back and forth in the fourth set and the match was tied at 17-17 before Jeremiah Zemet smashed a kill to give North Allegheny the lead. A couple of hitting errors followed, which gave the Tigers a three-point cushion. Tuman finished off the set with back-to-back kills.

“I felt like we worked really hard for (the third set), but a couple of ball just didn't fall our way,” Smith said. “That could've boosted us, but unfortunately they got the momentum and took it into that fourth set.”

Tuman had six of his 18 kills in the final set. When Tuman wasn't slamming the ball over the net, others stepped up. Jake Barber had a key kill in the third set that halted a potential Bethel Park rally, and Stiefvater had a kill later in the third for a 23-20 lead.

“(Tuman) is very well-rounded. He's very skilled in every aspect of the game, but what makes him so special is how humble he is,” Schall said. “He's a grounded kid and he is thrilled with the success of others. He's as good a teammate as he is a player.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.

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