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SV, Butler volleyball swept in WPIAL semis

Slippery Slope

O’HARA TWP — Battles aren’t won with shovels.

Seneca Valley’s Connor Gormly sets a return during the Riders’ WPIAL boys volleyball semifinal loss to Shaler on Tuesday night. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle 5/21/2024

Certainly not against Titans.

In the first two sets of Tuesday’s WPIAL Class 3A boys volleyball semifinals, Seneca Valley didn’t help its own case, but rather dug itself into bigger holes at Fox Chapel High School.

The Raiders fell in three games by scores of 25-21, 25-18, and 26-24.

Seneca Valley (12-7) held the lead for just one serve in the first two games against the defending district champions, that when Jordan Hoover’s block provided a 13-12 advantage in the opening set.

Then came the third of six Raiders service errors in that game.

“Two balls hit that tractor (speaker) in the middle where we dug perfectly — I’m just saying in a tight set — and then we miss six serves,” Seneca Valley coach Brett Poirier said. “It’s just huge. A team like that, you’ve got to play your best — and we didn’t play our best.”

Butler’s Maddox McCall saves the point during the Golden Toprnado’s 3-0 WPIAL boys volleyball semifinal loss to North Allegheny on Tuesday night. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle 5/21/2024

The Raiders fell as many as five points behind, but worked back into things. Twice in the late going they had a chance to pull within a point and both times yielded errant serves.

“Just getting started in the match, that first set kind of sets the tone,” Titans (14-1) coach Paul Stadelman said. “I think coming out that first set and taking care of it definitely was a big confidence boost for us.”

The next frame didn’t go any better.

“In the second set, we had 16 errors,” Poirier said. You’re not going to win a game with 16 errors and we know that.”

Seneca Valley didn’t notch a kill in the first 24 serves of that set as Shaler cruised.

“We kept them from making runs, we kept them from going into leads, and then we got the ball back and were serving and playing defense on our end,” Stadelman said.

The Raiders did show signs of life in the final game, climbing out of a 23-17 ditch to even matters at 24 apiece. Peter Breski had two kills and as many blocks during that sequence, while Matthew DeGraaf added another kill.

Consecutive Titans kills sealed the match.

Different Look

Butler was swept in the first half of the semifinal twin bill, as North Allegheny had set wins of 25-13, 25-22, and 25-11.

As the scores indicate, the middle game didn’t resemble the ones that bookended it.

“We cut down on our mistakes,” longtime Golden Tornado coach Lew Liparulo said of the second set, which his team led before the Tigers ran off a 6-2 surge to close it. “Statistically, we got a lot more kills in the second set. We were in system. Passing was better. We played better.”

Butler (10-7) served with an edge six times in that game and the count was even for eleven others.

Following Alphonse Semmler’s kill that made 20-19, North Allegheny’s Stone Gaertner’s leveled it at 20-all and Will Robertson followed with a block and kill of his own, prompting a Butler timeout. The Golden Tornado notched a point after the pause, but the only other Tigers hiccup would be a service error.

North Allegheny (12-1) raced out to a 9-2 advantage in the final game and pulled ahead by as much as 13.

Much like the third, Butler never led in the initial set. Alec Teff’s ace made it 8-7, but the Tigers scored eight of the next 10 points and later finished the game off with eight consecutive scores.

Coleton Welter finished with a team-high six kills for the Golden Tornado; while Teff led with four blocks, Maddox McCall with nine digs, and Mason McCall with eight assists.

Butler will face off against Seneca Valley in a consolation match, the winner punching its ticket to the state tournament.

“Butler’s a good team,” Poirier said. “We’ve seen them enough. We know we’re really equal. It’s going to be (about) who comes out hotter, who has a better night. Hopefully we play better than what we did tonight.”

Seneca Valley High School's Jordan Hoover (26) hits and aggressive spike during the WPIAL quarterfinals match against Shaler High School on Tuesday May 21, 2024. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle
Seneca Valley High School's Matthew Cinker (23) with a save during the WPIAL quarterfinals match against Shaler High School on Tuesday May 21, 2024. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle
Butler High School's head coach Lew Liparulo shows his dissatisfaction of a call during the WPIAL quarterfinals match against North Allegheny High School on Tuesday May 21, 2024. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle 5/21/2024
Butler High School's Coleton Welter (16) sets for a spike during the WPIAL quarterfinals match against North Allegheny High School on Tuesday May 21, 2024. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle
Butler High School's Coleton Welter (16) sets for a spike during the WPIAL quarterfinals match against North Allegheny High School on Tuesday May 21, 2024. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle

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