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Balanced attack guides North Allegheny to WPIAL volleyball title

| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Being star struck by professional athletes at the North Allegheny girls volleyball matches isn't something freshman Paige Miller thinks much about.

Her teammates never talk much about it either. The Tigers' varsity team features three girls — Avery Tuman, Kayla Dinkins and Mika Logan — whose dads played in the NFL.

“Mika's dad and Kayla's dad,” said Miller about which players she had heard of. “The kids themselves don't talk about them.”

Overall, North Allegheny has shown itself to be an unflappable bunch. The 21-0 Tigers haven't been weighed down by distractions, especially on the court.

When North Allegheny swept Cumberland Valley, 3-0, to open the PIAA playoffs Nov. 7 at Norwin, the Tigers had to fight tooth-and-nail to win the first set 26-24.

That's become a major trend for North Allegheny in the postseason.

During the Tigers' WPIAL title run, North Allegheny won the first set 28-26 against Hempfield in the semifinals and 27-25 against Armstrong in the finals. Both matches ended in sweeps.

“I definitely think this is a year where we match up with anyone we face,” Tigers coach Heidi Miller said. “If we can balance our offense and continue to do what we've been doing, it would be hard to stop us. You would have to match up with us across the board. In the playoffs, the next match boils down to better passing and serving team.”

North Allegheny was scheduled to take on Seneca Valley in the PIAA quarterfinals. What has helped the Tigers continue to march forward is their balance.

Against Cumberland Valley, Dinkins led the team with 15 kills. Paige Miller, Logan and Tuman all had six kills, while Abby Miller and Anna Sprys contributed five.

“My daughter is the setter, at home my husband who is also a volleyball person, we talk to her about creating that balance and creating that within a game where she looks to get everyone involved and make it difficult to defend us,” Heidi Miller said. “We want people to constantly be worried about every attack zone. That's something she's been trained to do and something we ask for her.”

Building such balance has led to a dazzling attack.

Everyone on the team feels like they are on the same page. Their hope is they can bring their famous crowd along for a ride to the state finals.

“The environment is good in practice and playing,” Paige Miller said. “(The seniors) give you a feeling you want to play and you want to be on the court with them.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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