NA Tops Landisville Hempfield In Five-Set Thriller in PIAA Semifinals
The North Allegheny girls’ volleyball team punched its ticket to the PIAA championship match for the seventh consecutive season by a winning a 3-2 thriller over Landisville Hempfield in the state semifinals on Tuesday night at Hollidaysburg High School. The victory atones for NA’s lone defeat this season at the hands of the Black Knights on Oct. 14.
Familiar foes at the state level, Tuesday’s PIAA Class 4A semifinal represented the eighth time in the last 12 seasons that the Tigers and Black Knights sparred in the PIAA playoffs. It was also the fourth time in the last five seasons NA and Hempfield hooked up in the state playoffs, with the Tigers winning all four meetings in that span.
District 3 champions for the fifth consecutive season, Hempfield started strong and opened up a 15-6 lead in the first set. The Tigers rallied to tie the score at 20-20, but the Black Knights once again found themselves in front, 24-21, and seemed poised to win game one. However, North Allegheny went on a 5-0 run, including back-to-back kills by senior Kyra Schmidt, to cap off an exceptional comeback and a 26-24 win. Schmidt ended the evening with nine kills for the Tigers.
In set two, North Allegheny held a 21-19 lead before Hempfield rattled off a 6-0 run to earn a 25-21 victory. Prior to the late surge by the Black Knights, neither team led by more than two points in a tightly contested game. Junior Addie Leber, the MVP of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, powered the Black Knights in set two and finished with 17 kills.
Similar to set one, the resilient Tigers fell behind by nine points but ultimately prevailed. Down 14-5, North Allegheny chipped away and eventually tied the score at 20-20. Spearheaded by a big offensive night by senior outside hitter Marin Dunaway, who finished with a game-high 23 kills, the Tigers pulled out a 25-23 victory. For her efforts, along with seven digs on defense, Dunaway was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Match.
Hempfield answered back in the fourth set and earned a 25-23 win to force a fifth and decisive set. Senior Reece Calabretta delivered four kills and a pair of aces in the fourth game. A consistent source of offense for the Black Knights, Calabretta totaled 16 kills on the night.
Despite Hempfield’s sudden momentum swing, the Tigers answered the bell in the fifth set and displayed the mettle that made them six-time reigning PIAA champions. Deadlocked at 8-8 in the fifth, North Allegheny tallied seven of the next eight points to claim a 15-9 win to advance to the state championship for the seventh consecutive season. Leading 11-9, freshman Alicia Mokube notched back-to-back blocks, senior Jamie Frisco delivered a kill and Dunaway finished off the Black Knights with her 23rd kill of the night to cap the win.
Mokube ended the night with a team-high seven blocks and was part of an impressive performance by a pair of North Allegheny freshmen. Rookie setter Molly Robertson led the Tigers with 23 assists, and added 11 kills, three blocks and an ace.
Jamie Frisco peppered the Hempfield defense with 11 kills and added three blocks. Junior Mack Jones dished out 21 assists and sophomore Keely McMahon-Regan handed out eight assists as well.
Senior libero Avery Butcher totaled a team-high 23 digs, followed by Schmidt’s 13 digs. Senior Jordan Frisco tallied 11 digs.
With the win, North Allegheny improves to 19-1 overall, while Hempfield ends the season with its first loss with a 20-1 mark. The Tigers will take on Unionville on Saturday at 6 p.m. from Cumberland Valley High School in the PIAA Class 4A championship. The title match will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network.
Girls Volleyball Summary vs. Landisville Hempfield, 11-14-23
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