Defending champions return to WPIAL title matches
Both defending champions earned a return trip to the WPIAL boys volleyball finals with victories Monday.
Class 3A champion Penn-Trafford and Class 2A champion Beaver County Christian posted semifinal wins to earn a second consecutive title berth.
Penn-Trafford, the No. 2 seed, earned its berth with a hard-fought, 3-1 win against Bethel Park, the No. 3 seed. It was the first of two semifinal matches at Baldwin High School. The Warriors opened with a 25-20 victory, but the Black Hawks rallied to win the second set, 27-25. The Warriors took charge in the final two sets, recording wins of 25-19 and 25-18.
"It's great to be back in the finals," Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. "We had to work real hard against a very competitive Bethel Park team, but were able to pull it out."
Penn-Trafford will face top-seed North Allegheny in the title match, at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Baldwin.
North Allegheny earned its 12th title berth in the past 15 years with a 25-21, 25-16, 23-25, 25-23 victory against No. 4 seed Seneca Valley.
It was the third time this season that the two teams met, and the Tigers won all three.
Canyon Tuman led the Tigers with 18 kills.
Defending champion and top seed Beaver County Christian earned a return trip to the final with a 28-26, 25-14, 25-17 sweep of No. 4 seed Derry Area, in the second of two matches at North Allegheny.
"We played flat, but scored when we had to at critical times," Beaver County Christian coach Christen Adels said. "It wasn't pretty, but we came away with a win."
Beaver County Christian will face Deer Lakes in the title match, at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Baldwin.
Deer Lakes, the No. 3 seed, earned its first title berth since 2011 with a 3-1 victory against No. 2 seed Ambridge. The loss ended Ambridge's string of five consecutive title appearances.
Deer Lakes posted a 26-24 win in the first set, but Ambridge responded with a dominating, 25-11 victory in the second set.
"We looked great in the second set, but didn't play as well in the other three sets," Ambridge coach Glenn Freed said. "We made little errors here and there, and those errors can be a killer in a close match."
Deer Lakes clinched the match victory with wins of 25-16 and 25-23.
Cole Hopkins led Ambridge with 18 kills.