SV volleyball bows to Tigers
April 15, 2013
JACKSON TWP — After back-to-back trips to the state playoffs, Seneca Valley boys volleyball was forced to hit the reset button in 2013. The Raiders have lost 24 players to graduation over the past two years and coach Dan Follett is in his first season at the helm of the program. “It’s very different,” said Follet. “We’re very young. We have 19 underclassmen and only five seniors and it’s their first year playing varsity.” The inexperience didn’t stop Seneca Valley from offering a challenge to the reigning champions. The Raiders gave perennial powerhouse North Allegheny all it could handle in the first set, before the Tigers flexed their muscle for a 25-23, 25-10, 25-20 Section 2 victory on Thursday night at Seneca Valley High School. SV initially jumped out to a 9-4 lead, but North Allegheny responded with a 7-1 surge midway through the first set and put the Raiders on the ropes at 22-19. Kris Baier provided a counter punch for SV with a kill to side-out and followed with three service points to take a 23-22 edge. However, NA’s Justin Zweig pounded three consecutive kills to secure the opening set. Although the Raiders (2-4, 2-3) entered the matchup under .500, North Allegheny coach Dan Schall fully expected a spirited effort from SV. “We knew that they’re a good team who was going to be up for the challenge and they have some very athletic guys, so it wasn’t a surprise that they came out as they did,” Schall explained. “We just wanted to maintain our poise, make a few less errors than we did out of the gates and we were able to steady it out.” North Allegheny (5-0, 5-0) rode the momentum to a dominating performance in the second set. The Tigers — who have won nine of the past 10 WPIAL Class AAA crowns — built a 13-4 cushion and the lead never dipped below eight points after that. “They made some adjustments serving the ball and on our blocking,” said Follett. “They run it like a college team. They’re very fast, very disciplined and they make very few mistakes.” It appeared the third set was heading for another lopsided score after the Tigers cruised to a 10-4 advantage, but the Raiders resiliently evened it at 17 before NA clinched the match with an 8-3 spurt. “When you beat a team as good as Seneca, it feels good,” said Schall. Follett was satisfied to see his Raiders make the Tigers work for the win. “For us to hang in there and fight in two really close games, I can’t really complain because they’re probably one of the top teams in the state,” the SV coach explained. But Follett was most impressed with his squad’s ability to execute the game plan. “In the first game, they did an excellent job of running what we scouted,” Follett said. “I’m very proud of that. It’s the first time they’ve done anything like that.” NA setter Joe Murphy racked up a match-high 29 assists, while Tommy Keisling had at least four kills in every set and finished with a match-high 13. Swinging from the opposite end, Zweig finished with six kills and a block, while middle hitters Brendan Brown and Daniel Rogers combined for six kills and four blocks. Bradley Hart distributed 21 assists to lead Seneca Valley and Taylor Matthews came up with a match-high four blocks. Pat Messmer registered a team-best eight kills for the Raiders, while Baier notched four kills and an ace.