Tigers Win Joust With Black Knights In PIAA Semifinals
North Allegheny’s quest for a fourth straight state championship continued on Tuesday night with a thrilling five set victory over Landisville Hempfield, 3-2, in the PIAA semifinals at Altoona High School. It was the second consecutive year that the Tigers and Black Knights sparred in the state semifinals at Altoona. NA won by set scores of 25-18, 19-25, 25-13, 24-26 and 15-9.
Identical to their playoff meeting in 2019, both teams entered the game with unblemished records. The WPIAL champion Tigers took advantage of some early jitters from the Black Knights and surged ahead for a 14-3 lead. NA flustered Hempfield with its serving and posted five aces in the early going. Seniors Paige Morningstar and Paige Miller fired up three and two aces, respectively, during the opening salvo. Sophomore Mia Tuman added five kills and North Allegheny claimed a 25-18 win in set one.
Winners of 13 District 3 titles, Hempfield got even with NA in the second set thanks to a 25-19 victory. Junior Camille De La Torre spearheaded the effort with four kills, on her way to a team-high 13 kills for the Black Knights. Junior middle hitter Joslene Morgan chipped in with three kills in the set and totaled 11 kills and a team-best four blocks for the evening.
Similar to set one, North Allegheny leaped to an 11-4 lead and controlled set three en route to a 25-13 win. Senior Madison Beer and sophomore Ella Deeter roadblocked Hempfield with a pair of combo blocks and added two kills each.
With its season on the line, Hempfield responded by outlasting NA for a 26-24 triumph win in set four. De La Torrre once again stepped up with four kills and senior Emily James chipped in with three kills, finishing with 12 on the night.
In the fifth and decisive set, North Allegheny led the entire way and gained control thanks to the big swings and savvy play of Tuman. A tip by Tuman gave NA a 14-9 lead and sophomore Caroline Curran’s ace sealed a 15-9 set win to secure a 3-2 match victory. A defensive spark throughout the contest, Curran posted a team-best 20 digs. Miller followed with 15 digs, while Tuman and sophomore Rachel Pilotta contributed 14 kills apiece.
A consistent source of offense and defense at the net was junior Jadyn Perkins. The talented middle hitter finished with 14 kills and a team-leading six blocks on her way to Wright Automotive Player of the Game honors.
The win improves North Allegheny’s record to 17-0 on the year, while Hempfield’s season comes to a close with a 17-1 mark. The Tigers will try to become just the third team in PIAA history to win four consecutive state titles when they face Unionville on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Cumberland Valley High School. The contest will be broadcast live via the internet on the North Allegheny Sports Network.
(Photo courtesy Chris Knight and LNP, Lancaster Online.)
Girls Volleyball Summary vs. Landisville Hempfield, 11-17-20
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