Schalls share final memorable season with North Allegheny boys volleyball

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Saturday, June 11, 2022 | 9:01 AM


Caleb Schall comes from a family where his parents and two uncles played college volleyball, his grandfather won state volleyball titles as a high school coach and his dad now leads powerhouse North Allegheny.

The sport is clearly a Schall family tradition.

“Volleyball is just in our DNA, I guess,” said Caleb Schall, a senior setter for his dad’s team at North Allegheny. “I always knew I was going to play volleyball growing up. I’ve always been around the game.”

That’s not an exaggeration.

His father, Dan, just coached his 19th season at North Allegheny, and Caleb has been around the gym for almost all of them — even when he was way too young to walk.

Need proof?

“There are pictures of our team holding him up when he’s wearing a onesie,” Dan Schall said. “I don’t know how many months old he was. He’s been there for just about it all. He’s seen a lot of North Allegheny volleyball.”

The sport is a lifelong passion for the Schall family, but father and son entered this spring knowing it would be their last together because Caleb is a senior. So they made their final run last as long as possible.

With Caleb playing a key role, the team won the WPIAL title and reached the PIAA finals for the fifth consecutive season. Most teams had started their summer vacations weeks ago, but North Allegheny still was playing in June.

“We often speak of enjoying the journey,” Dan Schall said. “Not so much the end of it but the special moments along the way. We’ve really soaked that up this year. To and from practices, late nights coming home from matches, all of it is special.”

Added Caleb Schall, who is in his second year as a starter for NA: “It’s super special. I waited a long time for this. It’s nice to get a chance to play for him.”

Caleb Schall shouldered a key role in North Allegheny’s success and its return trip to the state finals.

He’s a good setter and, at times, works as a hitter, but when his father puts on his coaching hat, it’s his son’s poise he highlights most.

Dan Schall points to a WPIAL playoff win over Shaler where the Tigers lost momentum and saw their lead become a one-point deficit. Yet, Caleb showed no panic on the court.

“I just looked at him, and there was no emotion whatsoever,” Dan Schall said. “He wasn’t rattled. He was just steady. I think that unspoken leadership he has on the court — his steadiness — is something that’s really rare.

“Probably most years I would have called a timeout there. But I looked at him and said no. What am I going to tell them that he’s not telling them without saying any words?”

Caleb Schall’s grandfather, Rich Schall, won three PIAA boys titles in 31 years as Derry’s coach before retiring in 2004. Richard’s three sons, Dan, Jim and Michael, played volleyball at Penn State and later became coaches, continuing the family tradition in gyms across the area.

Caleb Schall also will attend Penn State, just not for volleyball. He’ll pursue an engineering degree, but club volleyball could be in his future.

He and his father were playing “pepper” with a volleyball in their driveway in recent days, a warm-up routine they’d done countless times before. But Dan Schall said this time was maybe different, knowing their season could’ve ended weeks ago.

“I think we share the same mind,” Dan Schall said, “and we realized how special it was to play on the last day of the season together.”

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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