WPIAL Girls Volleyball Semifinals Recaps 2017

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Friday, November 3, 2017 | 4:17 AM


There have not been a lot of surprises in the district girls volleyball postseason as chalk has prevailed. It will be #1 vs #2 in 4-A, in 3-A and in 2-A and #1 vs #3 in 1-A. Those Saturday matchups were finalized after the eight Semifinals matches Thursday on the Trib Live High School Sports Network. Here are the recaps from all eight.

A special thanks to Jonathan Spina, Greg Kuntz, Donny Chedrick, Sean Meyers and Josh Rowntree for their help on these recaps.

WPIAL CLASS 4-A Semifinals:

North Allegheny Tigers 3 – Hempfield Spartans 0  
The Lady Tigers are back into the WPIAL Championship for the 4th time in 5 years after defeating Hempfield 3-0 in semifinal action at North Hills High School winning by scores of 28-26, 25-19 and 25-21. The first set was anything but easy for North Allegheny as Hempfield was playing out of their mind especially middle hitter Kierstin Schade who had block after block denying the Lady Tigers all first set. It looked like Hempfield was going to take the first set as they had a 24-22 lead but North Allegheny was able to tie it up and eventually win the first set 28-26. The second set was much more in North Allegheny’s favor as they went wire-to-wire in Set 2. This set was all about Kayla Dinkins and Abby Miller whether it was Miller setting up Dinkins or them playing defense at the net continuously getting blocks. The Lady Tigers were able to control the second set winning it 25-19. When it looked like Hempfield was finally down and out they came back to life making the third set very competitive again as Schade started to wake up again this time offensively. The game was tied 14-14 when North Allegheny was able to take control of the set and ultimately finish off Hempfield winning the third set 25-21. North Allegheny will take on second-seeded Armstrong in the WPIAL Championship Saturday at Baldwin High School. The time is still to be determined. Hempfield will take on Seneca Valley in the state play-in game also on Saturday at Baldwin.

Armstrong River Hawks 3 – Seneca Valley Raiders 1  
A battle of two evenly-matched teams transpired Thursday night at North Hills High School in the Semifinal Round of the Class 4A Girls’ Volleyball tourney.  The Raiders went on a 7-0 run in the early portion of Game 1, but after a timeout call by Hawks’ Coach Andrea Lasher, Armstrong regrouped and pulled to within 2. The two teams went back and forth with the Hawks grabbing a slim lead at the 11-10 mark.  Armstrong, behind 9 kills from Kenzie Lashed, took the first game, 25-22. Both teams again exchanged the lead at different times in Game 2, but the Raiders grabbed the lead at 21-20 and never relinquished it, winning by the slimmest of margins in regulation, 25-23, and evening the match at a game apiece. SV held the lead for most of the early portion of Game 3.  That was until a bit of controversy over a call involving a  ball played into the net led to a lengthy discussion among the officials.  First,  they ruled in favor of the Raiders,  then they reversed that call for the Hawks after further discussion.  Ultimately,  the officials decided on a do-over on the point.  The Hawks win the point, and that turned out to be the turning point of the match as Armstrong went on a 5-0 run and pulled away, taking Game 3, 25-17, and a 2-1 lead. The Hawks never allowed SV to get too far ahead in the match, and in Game 4, they grabbed the lead for good at 16-15 and went on to win, 25-22, and take the match, 3-1.  Thus the Armstrong River Hawks will play for the WPIAL Class 4A Championship Saturday at Baldwin against the winner between North Allegheny and Hempfield.  Seneca Valley, meanwhile, will also play at Baldwin in consolation match against the loser of that match.  The 3-spot in the PIAA State Playoffs hangs in the balance in that one.

WPIAL CLASS 3-A Semifinals:

Knoch Knights 3 – Thomas Jefferson Jaguars 0  
Top seed Knoch utilized their unique blend of height and defensive hustle to handily take down No. 4 Thomas Jefferson 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-20) on Thursday night at North Allegheny High School. The Knights, which have four players at 6’0″, were able to control the front of the net, with senior Sarah Armahizer leading the way with a match best 13 kills and three blocks. But early on, the Jaguars held the momentum after a service ace by Makayla Falk pushed Thomas Jefferson’s lead to 8-5. But Knoch, led by Armahizer’s four kills, ripped off 20 of the next 26 points won, including runs of 7-1 and 8-0 en route to a 25-14 opening set victory. The Jaguars would battle in the second set, with Falk and Tanner Patrick each record a pair of kills, keeping the Knoch lead at 11-9. But Armahizer, an Edinboro recruit, would take over with five kills and two blocks as the Knights went on a 12-1 run, taking the set 25-13. The final set was the best effort from Thomas Jefferson, despite falling behind 10-3 early. Compounded with multiple Knoch errors, the Jaguars would get as close as 20-18. But with three of her nine kills coming in the final set, Hannah Rowe was able to will the Knights to a 25-20 victory. In addition to Armahizer and Rowe, Bethany Nulph contributed five kills and three service aces for Knoch, which will meet No. 2 Montour on Saturday at Baldwin High School in the 3-A title match. Thomas Jefferson was paced by Falk’s six kills and Patrick’s five and will play West Allegheny on Saturday in the 3-A consolation match.

Montour Spartans 3 – West Allegheny Indians 0
No. 2 Montour advanced to the WPIAL 3-A Championship Game by way of a 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-17) win over No. 6 West Allegheny on Thursday night at North Allegheny High School. The Spartans, winners 3-A’s section 2, got relentless attack and defensive efforts from sisters Amalia and Rosie Esposito. The duo combined for 24 kills, Rosie with a match leading 14 and Amalia with ten. Early on, however, it appeared that West Allegheny would be the stronger of the two semifinalists, jumping out to a 5-0 advantage in the opening set. Montour though would chip away, grabbing their first lead at 8-7. West Allegheny would have only one more lead in the rest of the match. Paced by Rosie Esposito’s six kills and a 7-1 run, the Spartans would roll to a 25-18 opening set win. The second set belonged to the elder Esposito, senior Amalia, who ripped home five kills in the most competitive set of the evening. The Indians, defending WPIAL 3-A champions, fought to a 20-20 tie, but a service ace by Gabby Tanny swung the late momentum to Montour, which pulled away to a 25-22 victory. Rosie Esposito helped the Spartans jump out to a 13-6 lead in the final set before West Allegheny coach Yoko Nagao was forced to use a timeout. The Indians would rally with five straight points, but Montour then claimed 12 of the final 18 points for the 25-17 win. Tanny contributed four blocks and a service ace for the Spartans, which will look for their first volleyball title since 1972 when they meet No. 1 Knoch in Saturday’s final at Baldwin High School. West Allegheny got solid nights from Emma Hamm, who had nine kills, and Anne Koester, who added 7 kills and two blocks. The Indians will face Thomas Jefferson on Saturday in the 3-A consolation match with the winner advancing to the PIAA Playoffs.

WPIAL CLASS 2-A Semifinals:

Freeport Yellow Jackets 3 – Serra Catholic Eagles 0 
Freeport entered the 2017 Class 2A playoffs as the favorite, and the Yellowjackets showed why on Thursday, as they secured a straight-sets victory against Serra Catholic. The top-seeded Yellowjackets, who won the past two WPIAL titles, dispatched the No. 4 Eagles 25-11, 25-23 and 25-23. Freeport overwhelmed the Eagles in the opening set, leading wire-to-wire. The Yellowjackets scored the first three points, and after Serra Catholic pulled within one, at 6-5, Freeport used a 7-0 run to take control. While neither team registered an ace or a service error in the opening set, the Yellowjackets defense suffocated the Eagles’ attack. Serra Catholic showed its resolve in the second set, though, as the Eagles held an early lead. Freeport used another surge, though, this time scoring six-consecutive points to move in front, 9-5. The Eagles battled back, regaining the lead on three occasions, including at 18-17. After the teams were deadlocked at 20-20, Freeport scored four straight, and then held off a late rally by Serra Catholic to take the set. The third and final set played out in similar fashion, as Serra led for the early stages of the play. The Yellowjackets took their first lead of the set at 13-12, and the teams exchanged leads several more times until they were knotted at 18-18. Once again, the Yellowjackets closed out the set in strong fashion, ultimately sealing the victory. Freeport’s balanced effort included 10 services aces, as opposed to just one service error. Five of those aces came from libero Claire Crytzer. Junior Ally DeJidas paced the attack with seven kills, while Lauren Lampus and Courtney Grubbs each contributed five. For Serra Catholic, junior Vanessa Tom notched a game-best eight kills, while Julia Piccolino had seven, and Shannon Sullivan added six. In contrast to Freeport, though, the Eagles recorded just two aces, but had six service errors. Freeport advances to the 2A Championship on Saturday at Baldwin, where the Yellowjackets will face No. 2 Beaver. Meanwhile, Serra Catholic will prepare to enter the PIAA postseason.

Beaver Bobcats 3 – Avonworth Antelopes 2
In a thrilling back-and-forth match that went the distance, the Beaver Bobcats edged the Avonworth Antelopes to advance to the WPIAL 2A Championship. Beaver prevailed 21-25, 25-18, 28-30, 25-16 and 15-8 in the semifinals match on Thursday at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School. No. 2 Beaver, which won the two regular-season matchups against Avonworth in straight sets, played without senior setter Cortney Lambert, who was injured in the quarterfinals. Although freshman Eden McElhaney made key contributions in her place, the Bobcats were slow to find their rhythm. Beaver led in the early stages of the first set, but the Lopes pulled ahead at 10-9, and never relinquished that edge. In the second set, though, the Bobcats never trailed. The third set featured the teams exchanging the lead with regularity, with neither squad able to establish command. Third-seeded Avonworth had set point on several occasions, but the Bobcats continued to battle and forced extra play. Ultimately, the Antelopes closed it out to take the lead in the match. With their backs against the wall, the Bobcats won the final two sets. In the fourth set, Beaver led for the majority of the play, with Avonworth’s lone lead coming at 7-6. Beaver used an 8-0 run later in the set to establish command, though, and closed it out with relative ease. In the decisive fifth set, the teams exchanged points and were tied at 5-5. From there, though, Beaver used a 6-1 surge to pull ahead, and finally closed out the match. Beaver’s senior Macy McElhaney paced the attack with a match-best 18 kills and five aces, while fellow seniors Alexa Mamone and Mia Dodds contributed 16 and 13 kills, respectively. In the setback, the Antelopes received key contributions from sophomore Makenna Gavin and junior Emily Ferketic, who each had 10 kills. Gavin also led the team on the service line with five aces, while the rest of the Lopes combined for just one ace. With the triumph, the Bobcats will face top-seeded Freeport on Saturday at Baldwin High School, in a rematch of last year’s title game. Meanwhile, Avonworth will return to the court for the PIAA playoffs.

WPIAL CLASS 1-A Semifinals:

Bishop Canevin Crusaders 3 – California Trojans 0
It it back to the WPIAL Championship game for Bishop Canevin after a 3-0 victory over #5 California Thursday night. The Trojans brought a stingy attack to the 1-seeded Crusaders in the first set as they held an early 5-3 lead. After that, BC woke up by going on a 10-3 run to take a 13-8 lead. With the Crusaders ahead 21-16, California tried to rally back, but fell short by dropping the opening set 25-21. BC jumped out to a hot start in the second set by going ahead 10-4 on the Trojans. California would continue to fight back with its senior-heavy lineup, but the top seed in Class 1-A would not allow the Trojans to come within four points in the whole contest. Cal cut it to 23-19, but the Crusaders would answer with two straight points to win the set, 25-19. In the third set, the Trojans eventually crumbled under the pressure against the #1 seed in the bracket. With the game sitting at a 9-7 score, the Trojans had a chance to overtake Bishop Canevin,but BC went on an essential 15-7 to put a stranglehold on the third set. The Crusaders would then finish off the #5 Trojans by winning set three, 25-14 to sweep California. Leaders for California included senior Annalise Gillespie with 10 kills and senior Adeline O’Savage adding six kills. Leaders for Bishop Canevin included junior Kylie Airesman and sophomore Alexa Malloy, who tallied 24 kills a piece. Junior Lexi Hall added seven kills, while senior Tamara Blue had five kills. #1 Bishop Canevin will play #3 OLSH in the WPIAL Class 1-A Championship game Saturday at Baldwin. #5 California will play #2 Frazier.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chargers 3 – Frazier Commodores 1 
The OLSH Chargers are rolling on to the WPIAL Championship in Class 1-A after a 3-1 victory against the #2 seed, Frazier Commodores on Thursday night. The 3-seeded Chargers got it going early with a 25-17 victory in the first set. The scoring trends went back and forth for the majority of the contest, but OLSH jumped out to a 10-1 lead which set the tone for the match, giving the Chargers a 1-0 series lead. The Commodores answered in the second set as they had a much more focused performance en route to a 25-21 victory. The win evened the match at one game a piece with Frazier being the team jumping out to a strong start and holding the Chargers to a consistent three point deficit throughout the match. With the game tied at one set a piece, OLSH used a mid-game charge in the third set to take a 2-1 advantage. With Frazier up 18-14 in the set, the Chargers rallied for seven straight points to take a 21-18 lead. The scoring would go evenly to each side after that and it ended with OLSH scoring off a Frazier service error to take the set 25-23. The Chargers carried that momentum into the fourth set, which led the their 3-1 victory in the contest. With the score sitting at 15-14 in favor of OLSH, the Chargers went on another huge run to put them in the drivers’ seat. OLSH would win the set 25-18, and win the match sending the Chargers to the WPIAL 1-A Championship game against #1 seed, Bishop Canevin on Saturday. Leaders in the match for Frazier included sophomore Skye Eicher with 23 kills and sophomore Kathryn Barch with four aces. Leaders for OLSH included junior Katie Tarasovich with 15 kills, junior Maddie Hoff with 14 kills and sophomore Gianna Platt with 11 kills. Junior Sabrina Skukalek had four aces and five kills, while senior Shannon O’Donnell added six aces. #3 OLSH will play #1 Bishop Canevin in the WPIAL 1-A Championship on Saturday at Baldwin, while #2 Frazier will play #5 California.

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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