North Allegheny volleyball avenges WPIAL loss, beats Pine-Richland in state semis

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Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | 9:43 PM


Two weeks ago, North Allegheny left the WPIAL girls volleyball championships disappointed, but one positive that came from the loss to Pine-Richland was a lesson about where the Tigers needed to improve.

They applied that lessons Tuesday night and got some revenge, earning a 3-1 win over the Rams in the PIAA Class 4A semifinals at Fox Chapel.

North Allegheny will try for a sixth consecutive state title when it plays District 1 Champion Garnet Valley in the Class 4A final at 6 p.m. Saturday at Cumberland Valley.

“You never want to lose a WPIAL championship, but it taught us what we were not so great at and allowed us to improve,” North Allegheny coach Russ Hoburg said. “Hopefully this is a springboard for the state championship Saturday.”

North Allegheny had to battle through some adversity early.

The Tigers led for the majority of the first set, but Pine-Richland rallied behind a strong performance from senior outside hitter and North Carolina A&T recruit Kaili Doctor.

Doctor had nine kills in the set, including a go-ahead kill that put the Rams in front 25-24. North Allegheny committed a net violation on the next point and the Rams stole the set, 26-24.

Pine-Richland carried the momentum into the second set, building a 9-3 lead, but North Allegheny slowly climbed back. Jordan Frisco had a kill that made it 15-15. Then, the Tigers went on a 10-4 run to finish off a 25-19 victory.

“It’s a resilient group,” Hoburg said. “Last year we had a lot of matches that went to five (sets), so they are used to being in pressure situations. Once we got some momentum on our side, we were aggressive, and I think that was really good for us.”

Mia Tuman, an Ohio State recruit, played a major role in the comeback in the second with several blocks and kills and Carissa Treser had seven kills in the second.

“Mia means so much to us,” Hoburg said. “She has a ton of accolades and is very deserving of those. I was really impressed with her leadership tonight. When we were down five or six points in the second set, she was out there rallying her teammates and making sure they could give her a good pass. Athletically she’s one of the best, but she’s also a great leader.”

After tying the match, the Tigers took over. Starting with the 10-4 run at the end of the second, the Tigers outscored the Rams 60-30 the rest of the match. They took the third set 25-14 and the fourth 25-12.

“Anytime we play them, we know it’s going to be a battle,” Pine-Richland coach Angela Seman said. “It’s one of those games where you never know who’s going to win. It usually comes down to who comes out strong and who continues to play. In the WPIAL finals, it was us that continued to fight and be resilient, and in this game, unfortunately, it was them. They took the momentum from us and got us off the net with their serve a little more than I would’ve hoped for.”

Though the Rams fell short of making a state final, it was a memorable season. They won the program’s first WPIAL title since 2010 and fourth overall and made the state semifinals for the first time in 11 years.

Doctor had 19 kills in her final high school game.

“This is the first time these girls have been this far in the state playoffs,” Seman said. “The last time Pine-Richland was here was in 2011 and my assistant (Gabby Olson) was playing for them. This was a historic season. It takes a lot to turn around a program in two seasons. From where we were at the beginning to where they are now makes me so proud. They bought into being resilient and the team culture I’m trying to build.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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