ShareThis Page

North Allegheny, Ambridge facing familiar title-game foes

| Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 10:06 p.m.

If recent history is any indication, the fact the North Allegheny and Ambridge boys volleyball teams are playing for a WPIAL championship should come as no surprise.

That trend will continue Thursday, as the top-seeded Tigers take on Norwin at 8 p.m. in the Class AAA final, and the Bridgers match up against Derry at 6 p.m. in Class AA, both at Baldwin.

North Allegheny (13-1) is aiming for its eighth consecutive title and 10th in the last 11 years.

“We just look at it as we want to go win each match that we play and we don't really look too much into big picture, or championships or anything like that,” NA coach Dan Schall said.

Playing a rematch of the 2012 WPIAL final and last year's PIAA first-round match, Norwin (14-0) and coach Al Warden have not had much success against North Allegheny.

“They have pretty much dominated us,” he said. “We've played with them … just haven't found a way to beat them in a match at this point.”

Warden cited ball control and his team's ability to serve effectively as keys to the game. North Allegheny's offense, led by outside hitters David Haus and Mitch Higgins, was able to control the match when the two teams met earlier this year, a match won 3-1 by the Tigers.

“We as a team just have a ton of respect for those guys,” Schall said of Norwin. “They're in the hunt year in and year out. Al (Warden) and his staff, they do a great job. I think it's going to be a great match.”

Ambridge (9-1), the winner of the last two WPIAL Class AA titles and five of the last six, also finds itself paired against a familiar foe.

The Bridgers have defeated Derry (10-0) in the last two WPIAL title games and three of the last four. According to Ambridge coach Glenn Freed, the matchup between the league's top two ranked teams always brings about a good contest.

“It's really fun playing them,” Freed said. “We have a good relationship with them. … It's really good competition, and that's what we like. We want to keep competing. They're a very good team, we're a very good team, so just that battle back and forth is always fun.”

Led by Lee Smith and Brandon Buck this season, Ambridge has established itself as a WPIAL powerhouse, but Freed has avoided any type of complacency that might affect his players.

“Only coming in second place in the state last year, the guys made a pact to each other that they were going to do whatever they could, work as hard as they could to win another WPIAL and take that next step in the state championship,” Freed said.

Upsetting the two-time defending champions will be no small task for Derry, which dropped a 3-0 decision to the Bridgers earlier this season, but coach Shawn Spencer identified two key aspects that can help his team win its first WPIAL title since 1995.

“I think one, we have to be loose and relaxed,” he said. “As far as that goes, if we're able to do that I think we'll have some success, and then the other thing is we've just got to play to win rather than play not to lose.”

In the consolation matches, Bethel Park will play Fox Chapel at 6 p.m. in Class AAA, and OLSH will face Beaver County Christian at 8 in Class AA. The winners advance to the state tournament.

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.