For an encore, North Allegheny and Ambridge repeated as WPIAL champions in boys’ volleyball May 23 at Fox Chapel.
While the Tigers swept Bethel Park, 3-0, for the Class AAA crown, the Bridgers dispatched Seton LaSalle, 3-1, for the Class AA championship.
District 7 title are old hat for the two schools. NA has won 20 and the Bridgers have staked claim to nine.
In fact, Ambridge has been been to the finals 11 times in the past 14 years, while the Rebels had reached the championship match for the first time.
Despite the defeat, SLS head coach John Lawrence said he was proud of his players.
“Even though we didn’t win the match my boys have won the respect of their school mates, teachers, administrators and the rest of the Pittsburgh volleyball community,” Lawrence said. “We had a large group of alumni players at the match cheering the current players on. We had a large number of students with signs made up for the players cheering them on. We had players from other schools doing the same. Even though we lost in the score these boys are winners. They’ve earned that respect through their work ethic, and excellent demeanor and they are fine young men.”
Though the Bridgers took the first game, 25-14, SLS tied the match, 1-1, with a 25-21 win in the second set. Alex Shaughnessy recorded five kills and added a block.
SLS, however, had no answer for Liam Buck. After racking up 10 kills in the first game, he collected seven more as the Bridgers won the third game, 25-19. Buck finished with 25 kills in the match.
Six service aces propelled Ambridge to a 25-17 win in the final game.
Though SLS dropped to 17-2 overall, the Rebels continue their season as they qualified along with Ambridge, Shaler and Derry for the PIAA championships. Those matches are scheduled to be played Tuesday.
Meanwhile, BP dropped to 18-1 overall while NA remained undefeated at 19-0. The Tigers take a 42-match winning streak into the PIAA tournament.
NA beat the Hawks, 25-17, 25-18 and 25-18.
Max Cooley led the Black Hawks with 16 kills. Josh Sprandle and Mason Bussard followed with 10 and five, respectively. Cooley and Tyler Simpson each had three blocks.
Bethel Park edged Shaler to reach the championship match, 3-2. The Hawks won the first two games, 25-20 and 26-24, but dropped sets three and four, 25-20 and 25-19. BP prevailed in the fifth game, 15-11.
SLS reached the finals by dispatching Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 3-2, while Ambridge upset No. 1 Derry, 3-2. The Rebels outlasted the Chargers, 22-25, 25-17, 27-15, 21-25 and 15-8.
Of the third encounter with OLSH, John Lawrence said he was proud of his players’ grit.
“A key to our success was our players refusing to give up and give in. We struggled at times with different aspects but managed to pull together to scrape out the win,” he said.
While SLS effectively shut down OLSH’s middle attack and made key blocks on the outside, Alex Shaughnessy, Chris Sigg and Nathan Zini led the way for the Rebels in the hitting department. Wes Hoge provided the strong blocking.
Though he started slowly, Lawrence added Luke Manion “picked out the pace” in his setting as the match progressed. Kyle Killen played ‘wonderfully’ at Libero, making many key passes and digs.
Lawrence also acknowledged the play of Logan Kuntz.
“He was tremendous on his jump float serve building several long runs of points during the match,” Lawrence said.