JACKSON TWP — The battle for first place atop the Section 2-AAA boys volleyball standings proved to be a one-sided affair.
North Allegheny’s front line dominated previously unbeaten Seneca Valley, sweeping the Raiders by scores of 25-16, 25-15 and 25-21 at William Paul Gymnasium Thursday night.
“We made mistakes tonight,” said SV coach Dan Follett. “When you give a good team a few points, they take it and run with it and that’s what happened tonight.”
The Tigers (6-0, 5-0) have not dropped a set this season. Facing a solid team like Seneca Valley on the road may have seemed like a perfect time for North Allegheny to have a letdown, but coach Dan Schall knew his team would be ready.
“We talked about it earlier this week, how fortunate we are to play in this section,” he said. “Getting to play a good team in Seneca twice every year, it’s a great opportunity for us.”
The Raiders (5-1, 4-1) stayed with the Tigers in the first half of the first game, trailing just 13-12. But SV missed on chances to take the lead. The Raiders’ first four possessions ended on service errors. They finished the game with five.
“We absolutely practice serving the ball,” said Follett. “Those errors minimized our offense and they gave them more opportunities.”
The Tigers took a firm grip on Game 1 with Canyon Tuman behind the service line. Danny Lebovitz, Eric Visgitis and Jason Stiefvater each contributed a kill during a 5-0 run. A block from Seneca Valley’s Marshall Price briefly broke the Tigers’ momentum, but the damage was done. A 16-13 NA lead had turned into a 21-14 advantage.
NA allowed the Raiders to score just two points with possession in Game 2. A 6-0 run by the Tigers helped them build a 10-3 lead.
SV’s longest sustained momentum in the match came at the beginning of Game 3 as the Raiders forced Schall to call a timeout after building a 10-6 edge.
“We told our guys that it’s a long game,” he said. “We weren’t going to catch them in one rotation, but we just needed to do it eventually. That alleviated some of the pressure.”
But the Tigers did reel off another run to take the lead, scoring seven straight points for a 13-10 advantage.
Tuman, a junior outside hitter, tallied two thunderous kills during the spurt.
A service ace from SV’s Will Hayes and a kill from teammate Kyle Montrose helped the Raiders tie the game at 13. But the Tigers used one final run, this one of five straight points, to keep SV at bay.
“It came down to serving and passing,” Schall said. “We did both well tonight and that explains the runs we were able to put together.”
SV’s Matt Gagnon led the Raiders with six kills. Tuman had 11 kills for NA.
While disappointed in Thursday’s result, Follett said his team’s mistakes are easily correctable.
“North Allegheny was the better team tonight,” he said. “Every year, it’s a battle with them. We’ll continue to work and will get another shot at them (May 9).
Seneca Valley plays at Ambridge Monday before returning to section play at Butler (4-2, 3-2) Tuesday night.