Shaler volleyball shows mettle in WPIAL finals loss to North Allegheny

Sunday, November 15, 2020 | 11:01 AM

Mia Schubert’s furious third set showed the Shaler girls volleyball team wasn’t ready to melt.

The Titans junior outside hitter put away seven of her team-high 16 kills during the third set, ensuring the WPIAL Class 4A championship at Chartiers Valley High School would last a little longer.

While undefeated three-time defending state champion North Allegheny won the match, 25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 25-17, results from the regular season gave second-seeded Shaler confidence.

The Titans, who finished the season 14-3, were the only team to take the Tigers to five sets and weren’t swept in any of the three meetings.

“Coming in, we know we are the only team to beat them in two sets. It’s a huge motivation,” said Schubert, who also recorded 14 digs. “We thought we could win. It wasn’t like we thought we weren’t good enough.”

Shaler just needed some time to find its legs.

North Allegheny scored the first three points of the match and 10 of the first 11. The Tigers’ length made it difficult for Shaler to get into its offensive system.

“They have a ton of experience being in a WPIAL championship,” Schubert said. “We’ve never been to anything like that. The pressure all of us felt, after a while, we let it go and said we have nothing to lose. They are expected to win and we’re not.”

The Titans didn’t take a lead in any set until a North Allegheny attack error put them ahead 14-13 in the third. Morgan Gralewski, who recorded 12 kills, scored the winning point for Shaler in the third set.

Emily Peterson led the Titans with six blocks, Tia Bozzo handed out 37 assists and tied Addie Kania with a team-high 16 digs.

“I think at the start of the match, it was a matter of settling in and doing what we did all season long,” Shaler coach Paul Stadelman said. “The hype of the game and a little bit of it being our first time being here, we had to shake off jitters a little bit. You saw we can play and hang right with them.”

Tigers coach Heidi Miller said North Allegheny was focused on being ready for the Titans’ pace in their attack.

“They are a good ball-handling team,” Miller said. “We knew our serve-receive and our defense would have to match theirs. They run a quick offense. We worked on being quicker with our block and being ready to defend.”

In most normal years, the Titans would be preparing for their first trip to the state playoffs. But due to covid-19 restrictions, only district champions will continue on.

Schubert and her teammates made their statement in battles with North Allegheny.

Stadelman would have loved to find out how they matched up with teams outside the WPIAL.

“It’s been fun seeing these kids develop from a young age and see them turn into high-level players that battled a three-time defending state champion North Allegheny,” Stadelman said. “NA is a good measuring stick for us. We have the privilege of playing NA two or three times a year, so who knows where we would rank in the state in the grand scheme of things.”


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