North Allegheny volleyball advances to PIAA semifinals

Saturday, June 2, 2018 | 8:45 PM

Wins over Butler have led to championships this season for North Allegheny's boys volleyball team.

The Tigers beat the Golden Tornado twice in section play to claim the WPIAL Section 2 title. They notched their third triumph over Butler in the WPIAL semifinals en route to their 19th district title.

Saturday afternoon, North Allegheny swept the Golden Tornado for a fourth time 3-0 in a PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

The Tigers (21-0) only hope it leads to their first PIAA championship since 2013.

“They are really good, and I think our guys' respect for them really helped our preparation,” North Allegheny coach Dan Schall said. “There was never anything that was taken for granted. Our guys were very aware of the kind of run they could make at us, and our preparation over the last couple of days was excellent.”

While North Allegheny enjoyed success against Butler before, the Tigers were ready for a challenge.

“We have a great coaching staff and the players to adjust,” said NA senior Canyon Tuman, a Penn State recruit. “We were able to execute just like we should.”

The Golden Tornado (18-5) hoped to get up on NA early. Butler, coming off its first PIAA tournament victory (3-1 over Altoona), did exactly that as it posted a 3-1 lead to start the first set. However, the Tigers battled back to regain the advantage 4-3. The set remained close until Jake Barber's kill gave NA a 16-14 lead. From there, the Tigers pulled away and closed the set with a 10-4 run.

“This is a pretty experienced team, and they had two aces early. We weren't really rattled by that,” Schall said. “I thought our resilience was good in weathering the storm of the run they made.”

Tuman was happy to see his team turn it on to close out the first set.

“The first set always sets the tone for the entire match,” he said. “We were able to take care of business and get the job done.”

North Allegheny dominated the second set for a 25-10 win. With the teams knotted 3-3, Tuman's kill sparked the Tigers to an 11-8 edge. From there, they went on a 7-0 run.

The Tigers, who have lost only one set all season, led throughout the third set and posted a 25-17 victory for the sweep.

Jason Stiefvater led NA with 14 kills and four digs. Tuman had six kills, six digs and two aces. A.J. Schmidt had 28 assists and seven digs.

“There are a lot of guys who are doing a number of things big and small,” Schall said. “It's good to see so many cylinders firing today. The load wasn't on one guy. It was a great team effort.”

North Allegheny meets Central York, a 3-1 winner over Cumberland Valley, in Tuesday's semifinal. The Tigers hope to return to the PIAA final for the second year in a row.

“Every week, I feel like we're getting better,” Tuman said. “Since the start of the season, I think we're a more collective group and we're figuring out more of our strengths and weaknesses. I think we're ready to move forward to the semifinals.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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