North Allegheny volleyball wins 4th straight PIAA title with dominant performance

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Saturday, November 21, 2020 | 8:45 PM


SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — In their quest for a fourth consecutive PIAA Class 4A volleyball championship, the North Allegheny Tigers faced a formidable foe with very similar size in Unionville, the District 1 champion.

North Allegheny’s size and experience took over and the Tigers completed the four-peat by sweeping Unionville 3-0 with game scores of 25-13, 25-22, and 25-20 at Cumberland Valley High School on Saturday.

“We scouted them and to be honest, I was kind of nervous after watching them on film,” Tigers coach Heidi Miller said. “I said if we compete and do well, we’ll see how it goes, but to play like we did tonight was very special. We dug and passed the ball well, and that was one of our inconsistencies all season.”

North Allegheny (18-0) beat Erie McDowell (District 10) and Hempfield (District 3) on their way to the finals while Unionville (15-0) beat Archbishop Carroll (District 12) and Parkland (District 11) in their quest for the title.

North Allegheny spread the ball in the first game and used the combination of Paige Morningstar setting and Paige Miller and Mia Tuman hitting to roll out to a 25-13 win.

A similar combination with junior Rachel Burton and sophomore Ella Deeter carried the Tigers in the second game. They led 22-16 when Unionville’s Sophie Brenner tried her best to bring her team back. Two kills and a block got the Indians within striking distance, but a Morningstar to Paige Miller set ended the game 25-22 in the Tigers’ favor.

Unionville, whose Indian mascot is being retired within the year, jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the third game behind Brenner. The District 1 champ extended that lead to 9-6 before Miller and Jadyn Perkins took flight to tie the game 9-9.

Brenner ended the night with 11 kills and five blocks.

North Allegheny continued its run and took a 14-11 lead. But Unionville went to Brenner for a couple of hits and a couple of long hits by North Allegheny cut the deficit to one at 16-15. Maddy Lowe had a few key hits for Unionville.

At 22-20 North Allegheny in Game 3, the Tigers found Jadyn Perkins for two big hits and Paige Miller for the final point.

“I am just stunned, and when I look back, it is very bittersweet to end my career with four straight titles,” Paige Miller said. “Knowing how good that team was and to play the way we did was so overwhelming.”

Tuman led the Tigers with 15 kills while Miller added 12. Morningstar had 30 assists and Perkins added two big blocks. Caroline Curran added 16 digs, while Miller and Rebecca Pillota each added nine digs.

Tuman is a special athlete who comes from a good athletic stock and gets some pretty good volleyball genes from her mom, a former U.S. national volleyball player. Jerame, her father, was an NFL tight end with the Steelers and Cardinals.

“This is huge, and four straight titles is big because this team has worked so hard this year,” Tuman added. “Being a sophomore, my goal is to come here and win two more titles. My brother surprised me today, and that was unexpected. (Brother Canyon plays volleyball at Penn State). We have a great team, and when we were on point like tonight, we are very hard to beat. We might have played our best game all season tonight.”

“It is my last year, and I wanted it for the girls and wanted to go out on a high, and it was all of that and more,” Coach Miller added. “We were so clean tonight, and I credit that to the girls and how hard they worked. I am just so overwhelmed.”

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