North Allegheny tops Shaler, earns 5th consecutive trip to state volleyball finals

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | 12:37 AM


North Allegheny will try for No. 5.

Already a four-time defending state champion, the NA girls earned a trip to the volleyball state finals for the fifth year in a row after defeating rival Shaler, 3-1, in a PIAA Class 4A semifinal Tuesday night at Fox Chapel. The Tigers rallied from a 25-19 loss in the first set to win 29-27, 25-18 and 25-18.

This was a rematch of the WPIAL finals that NA also won.

“I’m just happy for them,” said NA coach Russ Hoburg, a first-year head coach who won four titles as an assistant. “They’ve worked so hard all season. I’m pumped that they get a chance to defend their title — their four-time title.”

North Allegheny (19-1) will play District 11 champion Parkland in the finals at 6 p.m. Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School. No girls team has won five consecutive PIAA titles since Norwin won eight in a row from 1976-83.

“They have a lot of experience,” Shaler coach Paul Stadelman said. “They’re a very good team.”

This was the fourth match this season between North Allegheny and Shaler, who share Section 1-4A. NA won three of the four matches, but none came easy. Shaler (18-4) won the first 3-0, and NA won the next three 3-2, 3-2 and 3-1.

“We definitely gave them a run for their money every time they saw us,” Stadelman said. “I don’t think they could look past us. They had to take us seriously. That’s what you want in a high school competition: two teams battling it out and letting the chips fall.”

The second set Tuesday was particularly tense.

North Allegheny had a 22-13 lead before Shaler rallied back, trying to take a 2-0 set lead. Shaler forced a tie at 24 and led 25-24 and 26-25, The score was tied again at 26 and 27 before North Allegheny ended the marathon set with a kill by Carissa Treser and an ace by Caroline Curran.

The set win forced a 1-1 tie.

“We always want to be the aggressive team,” Hoburg said. “We never want to be tentative. If we’re going to go out, we’re going to go out swinging. In those tense moments, we talked about rising to the occasions. Swing away. Don’t get tentative because it’s tight. Typically the aggressive team is the one that comes out on top.”

Treser led NA with 12 kills and Ella Deeter had 11. Mia Tuman added 11 kills, 35 assists and 25 digs. Curran had 33 digs.

NA won the final two sets 25-18 and 25-18.

Mia Schubert led Shaler with 11 kills and 23 digs. Tia Bozzo had 35 assists. Sierra Ricci added 22 digs and Madison Barr had 21.

“Those girls battled,” Stadelman said. “They made their coach proud tonight. They made me proud all season.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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