Bethel Park runner-up to NA in volleyball
Tigers need five games to dispatch Hawks
Bethel Park could not derail North Allegheny as the Tigers chugged their way to their seventh consecutive WPIAL title in boys’ volleyball. But, the Black Hawks certainly delayed their arrival time to the trophy platform.
The Black Hawks went the distance. They forced the Tigers to five games before being railroaded, 3-2, in the Class AAA championship match played May 23 at Baldwin.
After splitting the first two games, 25-17 and 21-25, NA steamrolled past the Hawks in game three, 25-9. Somehow, however, BP recovered from the demoralizing defeat to take game four, 25-21.
“We have heart,” said BP head coach Tom Allman, who is assisted by Brian Blanc and Zachary Smith. “We didn’t play well in the third.
“We kind of got our heads down, but our assistant coach gave a nice speech in between the third and fourth match and got us fired up.”
Despite the uplifting win in game four, BP lost the fifth game and settled for runner-up honors in the district. In the finale, NA breezed to a 7-1 advantage and finished off the Hawks, 15-8.
“It’s always tough in a short set,” explained Allman. “You can’t make any errors.
“We gave it a shot,” he added of the overall match. “We just couldn’t stop their big hitters or get the block when we needed it.”
That meant Tom Keisling had a huge night. The senior, who was recognized as the league’s Most Valuable Player, tied a career high with 26 kills.
For the Tigers, who were seeded No. 1 in the tournament, it was their 10 WPIAL in 11 years. However, it was perhaps the most memorable in Keisling’s varsity career.
“This title was definitely the best one,” said Keisling said. “For us to get it in five, I’m just so proud of everyone. You never knew who was getting set, everyone was putting balls away. Everyone was passing well. It was just a great team effort.”
Because of BP’s effort throughout the tournament – the Hawks upended Norwin in the semifinals and beat Seneca Valley in the opener – eight seniors continue their careers. The class includes: middle hitter Bobby Huntington; outside hitter Camden Hay; setter, Vance Blanc; defensive specialists Ryan Petrossi, Aaron Glasser and Alexander Kiselica; liberio, Luke Hudson; and right hitter Grant Underwood.
The Hawks are qualified for the PIAA playoff. They will face State College, the District 1 champion, at 6 p.m. May 29 at Bishop Carroll High School in Ebensburg.
Should the Hawks triumph and North Allegheny beat Norwin, the teams would meet in a quarterfinal match set for June 1. Bethel Park is optimistic about its chances and embraces the opportunity to face NA again.
“We’ll give it a go,” said Allman. “Hopefully we’ll see them again.”
Also contributing to the team’s success are: Brandon Thorsen, Danny Burke, David Uhlmann, Noah Blanc, Jacob Dixon, Brandon Hanson, Steven Eiben, Lenny Chorney, Nicholas Pilotta, Werner Hernandez and Nathan Harrold.