North Allegheny volleyball shakes off WPIAL title loss, turns focus to states

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 | 7:58 PM


Seeing a 65-match losing streak end wasn’t ideal for North Allegheny girls volleyball coach Heidi Miller.

It wasn’t a crushing blow for the Tigers, either.

North Allegheny, which dropped a five-set match to Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL Class AAAA finals, bounced back in the first round of the PIAA tournament by sweeping District 10 champion McDowell.

The Tigers, who are in pursuit of a third straight PIAA title, were scheduled to meet State College (19-0) in the quarterfinals last Saturday in a match whose results were too late for this edition. The Little Lions, who won District 6, eliminated the Big Macs in five sets in the first round.

Having a chance to chase a third straight state title had North Allegheny energized. Losing in the district finals didn’t end the Tigers’ season.

“I think that was the reason it was easy to stomach,” Miller said. “It didn’t have a feel of defeat. We still had a chance to play and get what we wanted, a third straight state championship.”

Canon-McMillan was able to stop North Allegheny by dictating the pace. The Big Macs were stout defensively and played at a deliberate pace.

In the fifth set, Canon-McMillan set the tempo by racing to a 6-0 lead. North Allegheny rallied to go back ahead 11-10, but couldn’t close the match.

“Canon-McMillan slowed us down with their defense,” Miller said. “They did the same thing to State College. The match came down to the last few points in the fifth set.”

McDowell (14-5) never quite found its footing against North Allegheny. The Tigers won the first set 25-12 after building a 6-1 lead.

Paige Morningstar led North Allegheny with 10 kills, 10 digs and two aces. Hannah Phillips added six kills, while Madison Curran had four. Abby Miller contributed 14 digs for the Tigers.

“I think that the match Tuesday night was a nice first-round match to get us back on track,” Heidi Miller said. “Not to take anything from McDowell, but they didn’t have as much firepower that we are used to seeing from a week-to-week match. We wanted to make sure the loss was a learning experience for us.”

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