Volleyball dynasties out to add to their trophy cases in WPIAL finals Saturday

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Thursday, November 2, 2023 | 7:42 PM


The WPIAL will celebrate the 50th aniversary of its first girls volleyball championships by handing out four more titles Saturday at AHN Arena at Peters Township.

Norwin not only won the first gold in 1973, the Knights also won the first 13 Class 3A championships through 1985.

Three girls volleyball dynasties look to add more gold to their total Saturday while two defending champs are alive and looking to three-peat (Freeport) or four-peat (North Catholic).

Here is a look at three of the four WPIAL girls volleyball championships coming up on Saturday.

Check out our preview of the Class 2A finals between Freeport and Beaver here.

Class 4A

No. 3 Canon-McMillan (15-3) vs. No. 1 North Allegheny (15-1)

Saturday, 5 p.m. at AHN Arena at Peters Township

Coaches: Sheila Mitchell, Canon-McMillan; Russ Hoburg, North Allegheny

2023 playoff path: The Big Macs had a first-round bye, defeated Penn-Trafford in the quarterfinals (3-1) and Seneca Valley in the semifinals (3-0); the Tigers had a first-round bye, defeated Hempfield in the quarterfinals (3-0) and Pine-Richland in the semifinals (3-0)

Up next: The winner is the No. 1 seed out of the WPIAL and will host the District 10/City League winner in the first round of the PIAA playoffs while the loser is the No. 2 seed out of District 7 and will visit the District 6 champion in the first round of the state playoffs starting Tuesday

Titles won: The Big Macs won district gold in 2019; the Tigers have won eight WPIAL girls volleyball championships: 1993, 1996, 2008, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021

Players to watch: Canon-McMillan: Olivia Gross (Sr., 5-10, S), Julia Murdy (Sr., 5-4, Lib), Abby Tucker (Jr., 6-0, MH), Natalie Carr (Soph., 5-11, OH); North Allegheny: Avery Butcher (Sr., 5-6, Lib), Marin Dunaway (Sr., 5-11, OH), Jamie Frisco (Sr., 5-10, RH), Kyra Schmidt (Sr., 6-0, OH)

Team notes

Canon-McMillan: The Big Macs are in the finals for the first time in four years. They won the Section 2-4A crown by one game over Upper St. Clair. Canon-Mac avenged its quarterfinal loss to Penn-Trafford last season by beating the Warriors in four games in the second round this year.

North Allegheny: The Tigers have reached the 4A championship match for the seventh straight season. They are 4-2 in the previous six trips. NA captured the Section 1-4A title by three games over Seneca Valley. North Allegheny avenged its championship loss to Pine-Richland in 2022 by beating the Rams in three games in their semifinals match Wednesday.

Historic factoid: This is a rematch of the 2019 WPIAL 4A championship match in which Canon-McMillan stunned two-time defending champion North Allegheny, 3-2, ending the Tigers’ 65-match winning streak.

Class 3A

No. 2 North Catholic (18-1) vs. No. 1 Hampton (21-0)

Saturday, 3 p.m. at AHN Arena at Peters Township

Coaches: Amanda Fetter, North Catholic; Dainen Holler, Hampton

2023 playoff path: The Trojans defeated Indiana in the first round (3-0), Trinity in the quarterfinals (3-1) and Oakland Catholic in the semifinals (3-1); the Talbots defeated Laurel Highlands in the first round (3-0), Montour in the quarterfinals (3-0) and Thomas Jefferson in the semifinals (3-0)

Up next: The winner is the No. 1 seed out of the WPIAL and will host the No. 4 seed out of the WPIAL (Oakland Catholic if Hampton wins and Thomas Jefferson if North Catholic wins) in the first round of the PIAA playoffs while the loser is the No. 2 seed out of District 7 and will visit the District 10 champion in the first round of the state playoffs starting Tuesday.

Titles won: The Trojans have won four WPIAL girls volleyball championships in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022; the Talbots have never won a district title.

Players to watch: North Catholic: Brooke Sciullo (Sr., 5-10, OH), Alex Sepcic (Sr., 5-3, Lib), Sienna Cozza (Jr., 5-9, S), Ella Koziara (Jr., 5-10, OH); Hampton: Avery Koontz (Sr., 5-3, Lib), Lilly Muczinski (Soph., 5-8, S), Emma Rick (Sr., 5-9, OH), Emmy Schrom (Sr., 6-1, OH)

Team notes

North Catholic: The Trojans are in the finals again for the sixth consecutive season, going 4-1 in their previous five trips. They won the Section 4-3A crown by three games over Knoch. North Catholic’s lone blemish on its record this season was a nonsection loss to 4A top-ranked North Allegheny.

Hampton: The Talbots have reached the 3A championship match for the third time after falling to West Allegheny in 2016 and Freeport in 2021. Hampton captured the Section 1-3A title by three games over Gateway and Plum. Hampton has two district silver trophies and one state runner-up after reaching the PIAA 3A state title match two years ago and falling to Spring Grove in four games.

Historic factoid: North Catholic is attempting to become the fifth WPIAL school to win four straight WPIAL girls volleyball championships following in the footsteps of Norwin (1973-1985), Farrell (1981-1987 and 1992-1996), Hopewell (2002-2005) and Bishop Canevin (2017-2021).

Class A

No. 3 Bishop Canevin (19-1) vs. No. 1 Serra Catholic (19-0)

Saturday, 11 a.m. at AHN Arena at Peters Township

Coaches: Angela Wyman, Bishop Canevin; Keith Trahan, Serra Catholic

2023 playoff path: The Crusaders defeated Union in the first round (3-0), California in the quarterfinals (3-1) and Frazier in the semifinals (3-1); the Eagles defeated Western Beaver in the first round (3-0), West Greene in the quarterfinals (3-0) and Greensburg Central Catholic in the semifinals (3-2)

Up next: The winner is the No. 1 seed out of the WPIAL and will host the District 10 runner-up in the first round of the PIAA playoffs while the loser is the No. 2 seed out of District 7 and will visit the District 5 champion in the first round of the state playoffs starting Tuesday.

Titles won: The Crusaders have won seven WPIAL girls volleyball championships in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021; the Eagles have never won a district title.

Players to watch: Bishop Canevin: Jade Bailey (Sr., 5-6, S), Ella Whalen (Sr., 5-7, OH), Ayla Altman (Jr., 5-2, Lib), Clare Ruffing (Jr., 6-1, MH); Serra Catholic: Cate Clark (Sr., 5-9, MH), Maria Goldstein (Sr., 5-8, OH), Olivia Hussein (Sr., 5-10, OH), Emerson Trahan (Sr., 5-6, S), Cassidy Trahan (Jr., 5-7, Lib)

Team notes

Bishop Canevin: Last year was the first time the Crusaders missed the finals since 2011, ending a streak of 10 straight years in the WPIAL Class A title match. They won the Section 3-A crown by two games over Eden Christian. Bishop Canevin’s only loss this fall was a nonsection loss to 3A No. 2 seed North Catholic.

Serra Catholic: The Eagles were the top seed a year ago and reached the finals for the first time, only to lose to Frazier in the championship match, 3-0. Serra Catholic captured the Section 4-A title by two games over Greensburg Central Catholic.

Historic factoid: North Allegheny, with eight titles, is fourth all-time in the WPIAL, with both Bishop Canevin and Freeport tied for fifth with seven championships each. All three are looking to add to their totals on Saturday. The top three district girls volleyball title totals in the 50-year history are Farrell with 20, Norwin with 15 and Baldwin at 11.

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