Raiders bow to Tigers
JACKSON TWP — It takes a certain level of play to hang with five-time defending girls volleyball state champion North Allegheny.
Seneca Valley did not reach it Tuesday night. In fact, no team this season has been able to stay with the Tigers.
NA swept the host Raiders by scores of 25-16, 25-15 and 25-20, earning for the Tigers (16-0, 8-0) their 16th straight victory without dropping a set.
“That’s a pretty special deal, not losing a set all season,” said NA coach Russ Hoburg, who led the Tigers to WPIAL and state crowns in 2021. “I’m proud of the girls. We’ve got a target on our backs, but what helps us is that every day in practice, our girls are going up against one of the best teams in the state on the other side of the net.”
The Raiders (10-4, 4-4) trailed just 7-6 early in the first set, but kills from Rylee Gadomski, Maddie Fickess and Ella Zimmer, along with a pair of service aces from Mia Tuman helped NA build a 15-8 lead that the Raiders never recovered from.
“We play those guys three or four times every year,” said SV coach Brett Poirier of the Tigers. “They know what we have and we know what they have. You need to bring your ”A“ game against them and we were at about a B-minus tonight.”
The most competitive set turned out to be the third. The Raiders received kills from Katie Craig, Olivia Congdon and Zoe Schultz to cut into their deficit and trailed 21-19.
Carissa Treser, who had 11 kills on the night, dropped three of them to finish off the Raiders.
“Our offense has been up and down,” said Poirier, “but the strengths of the team have been defense and serving. We weren’t strong with our serves tonight (nine errors).”
Congdon tallied four kills and four blocks for SV.
“We’ve lost four matches all season,” Poirier added. “Two of them are to the No. 1-ranked team in the state (NA) and the other two are to the No. 7 team in the state in Pine-Richland. We’re ranked eighth, so we’re right there. We just have to pick up our play if we see them again.”
Treser led the Tigers in kills, but multiple players contributed to the team’s effort at the net, which never allowed Seneca Valley to get into a rhythm.
“We really are a balanced team,” said Hoburg. “Volleyball is the ultimate team sport because you can’t touch the ball twice in a row.”
Both teams will compete in tournaments this weekend. NA will host one while the Raiders travel to Norwin prior to the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs beginning next week.