NA Edged By Baldwin In WPIAL Championship, 3-2
The Baldwin Highlanders won their first WPIAL championship since 2003, defeating the defending champion North Allegheny Tigers in a five-set thriller, 3-2, from Baldwin High School. The Highlanders claimed the WPIAL title by set scores of 25-19, 17-25, 25-20, 18-25 and 18-16.
The opening set was a precursor of the see-saw nature of this title tilt with the lead changing hand seven times. North Allegheny senior Meg Morningstar led the Tigers to a 13-12 lead with six kills. However, the Highlanders bounced back behind the play of junior Mac Voelker who tallied seven kills in the set, and sophomore Maddi Sgattoni who contributed five kills, to take a 22-19 lead. Maddi Sgattoni scored the final three points of the set to give the Highlanders a 25-19 win.
The Tigers rebounded in set two and took a commanding 19-10 lead before Baldwin could recover. Senior middle hitter Bree Blair had a tremendous night for the Tigers and spearheaded the set two win with five kills and 2.5 blocks. Junior Lauren Swartz added three kills to help NA to a 25-17 triumph in game two.
North Allegheny seemed poised to take set three, holding a 16-13 lead, but Maddi Sgattoni delivered eight kills to lead Baldwin back to a 25-20 victory. With their backs against the wall, the Tigers dug deep in the fourth set and picked up a pivotal point following a tremendous dig by freshman Erin Carmody. NA’s libero denied Sgattoni a kill with an exceptional low dig, which led to a kill by Swartz and a 14-11 lead. Again paced by the big swings from Swartz and middle of the net play by Blair, the Tigers took the fourth set, 25-18. Swartz notched four kills in game four, and NA received three kills and a block from Blair. For her efforts, Blair was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Match by the North Allegheny Sports Network.
The fifth and final set was thriller that brought a standing room only crowd at Baldwin High School to its feet. Meg Morningstar and Blair helped stave off the Highlanders with a combined three kills and two blocks, but in the end the Highlanders outlasted the defending champions, 18-16, for their 10th WPIAL title in program history. Voelker and Maddi Sgattoni combined for 12 kills in the final set and Sgattoni finished the night with a game-high 29 kills.
North Allegheny falls to 13-7 overall and will face the District 6 champion State College Little Lions in the PIAA First Round on Tuesday night at Central Cambria High School. Start time is set for 7 pm. Baldwin stays closer to home for the PIAA opening round and will play the City League champion Allderdice Dragons on Tuesday at 8 pm at North Allegheny High School.
Girls Volleyball Summary vs. Baldwin, 11-1-14
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