In a classic battle of even rivals, North Allegheny dominates Seneca Valley to win the 5th straight volleyball crown


Thursday, May 26, 2022 | 00:33

At first glance, moments after North Allegheny outlasted Seneca Valley in their WPIAL Class 3A Marathon Men’s Volleyball Championship match Wednesday night at Robert Morris’ UPMC Events Center for their fifth straight title, no one flinched.

If there was ever a competition where hardly anyone was a loser, this was it.

“There’s such a fine line in terms of who wins this championship,” North Allegheny coach Dan Schall said following No. 2 seed North Allegheny’s 3-2 victory.

With the teams tied after four games, the only question that remained was how long would the deciding fifth game last?

Turns out it lasted a little longer than most.

Cole Dorn finished with 25 kills and three blocks and Jack Wilhite added 12 kills to lead North Allegheny over top-seeded Seneca Valley with scores of 25-23, 21-25, 22-25, 25-17 and 21-19.

Game 5 of a best-of-five game is usually played to 15. But since teams must win by two runs, the show had to go on.

“It’s about as intense as it gets,” Seneca Valley coach Brett Poirier said. “It’s tough. They’re a great team, and so are we.”

North Allegheny has also won four consecutive Class 3A PIAA Championships. The Tigers beat Seneca Valley in the 2021 semifinals.

For almost the entire time of the decisive game, the teams exchanged points. A close call for North Allegheny thwarted Seneca Valley’s best chance to win the game and extended the night a bit longer.

When North Allegheny (14-1) finally chained the final two points, the Tigers rushed to their beloved fan section and celebrated another championship.

“He’s sad right now,” Schall said, pointing to the opposite end of the field, where Poirier and the Raiders were dealing with the moment. “And quite honestly, I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Nobody deserves to lose this game. It is a kind of equality. The line of victory and defeat is so small and it could go either way every time we face them.

Both teams had already qualified for the PIAA playoffs by reaching the WPIAL finals.

“I’m sure we’ll see them again in the United States semifinals, just like last year,” Poirier said. “That’s what (Schall) said to me when he shook my hand, ‘I’ll see you in a week.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you probably will.’

On the floor — seated, pensive, half-smiling — sat UCLA rookie Coleman McDonough of Seneca Valley, who tried to rally his team throughout the game with spirited cheers and celebrations.

“We left everything there,” he said. “We only exchanged blows. No team is better than another. Just press harder, work harder.

Nathan DeGraff, a clerk from Lewis, Illinois, led Seneca Valley (17-2) with 19 kills.

Dorn, a clerk from St. Francis, Pennsylvania, was celebrating with family and friends near the North Allegheny end zone when a visitor asked what it felt like to win a game like this.

“No doubt it was a tie,” he said. “There aren’t many high school teams you see like this, so this is a great opportunity to get my feet wet (for the college level). I 100% expect to see these guys again.

The teams split their two regular season matches, which is their only loss.

Tags: North Allegheny, Seneca Valley

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