North Allegheny volleyball team again makes deep PIAA run

| Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In a rematch of WPIAL finalists, the North Allegheny boys volleyball team moved a step closer to its first state title in 14 seasons by shutting out Bethel Park in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs Saturday at Pine-Richland.

The Tigers met District 3 runner-up Central Dauphin in a semifinal match Wednesday at Altoona, with the winner advancing to the final Saturday at Penn State. Results were unavailable before this edition's deadline.

In the first round, North Allegheny shut out Norwin, the third-place team in the WPIAL.

“We're playing up to our ability,”coach Dan Schall said.

Showing improvement in the middle, North Allegheny did better against Bethel Park than it did in the WPIAL final, where the Tigers beat the Black Hawks, 3-2, for their seventh straight WPIAL title.

The Tigers swept three games by scores of 25-17, 25-20 and 25-16.

Senior Tommy Keisling and junior David Haus led North Allegheny with 11 and seven kills, respectively.

Junior Brendan Brown had six kills, four blocks and three aces.

A relaxed approach helped senior setter Joe Murphy, who contributed five kills, 32 assists, three blocks and six digs.

“Usually, I wake up nervous the day of a match, but this time, I felt good,” Murphy said. “With my career winding down, I want to enjoy the next few games.”

“Having played Bethel Park, we were prepared,” said senior libero Suyash Fulay, who chipped in with six digs. “We reduced our errors.”

Murphy and Fulay are optimistic about winning the state title.

“But we can't look too far ahead,” Fulay said.

“We have to take it match by match,” Murphy agreed.

A four-time PIAA champion, North Allegheny lost to Lower Dauphin of District 3 in the first round of the state tournament a year ago.

In 2011, the Tigers were PIAA runners-up to Central York of District 3.

The previous four years, North Allegheny finished third after losing in the semifinals.

The Tigers last won the state title in 1999, before teams were split into two classes seven years ago. North Allegheny also was champion in 1979, 1987 and 1991.

The Tigers have been runners-up eight times.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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