Both defending champions struggled in the WPIAL boys volleyball semifinals Tuesday night, but one team was able to fight back and earn a return trip to the final.
Top seed North Allegheny earned its sixth consecutive Class AAA title berth, and ninth in 10 years, with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against No. 4 seed Bethel Park at Chartiers Valley High School.
"Bethel Park played a fantastic match," North Allegheny coach Dan Schall said. "They played us as strong as any team we've faced this year. In the end, our past playoff experience was the difference."
Deer Lakes, the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champion, was not as fortunate. The No. 2-seeded Lancers dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 3 seed Derry at North Allegheny. It was the third time the teams have met this year after splitting matches in Section 2-AA.
"My kids showed a lot of resilience tonight," Derry coach Shawn Spencer said. "All four games were close, but we were able to separate ourselves at the end in three of the four games."
Derry will face top seed Ambridge in the Class AA title match at 6 p.m. Friday at Chartiers Valley. Ambridge swept Montour, 3-0.
"We did a great job of blocking and hitting tonight," said Ambridge coach Glenn Freed, after defeating the Spartans for the third time this season. "We're really looking forward to the championship match against Derry."
North Allegheny will face No. 3 seed Norwin in the Class AAA championship match Friday at Chartiers Valley. Norwin earned its first title berth since 2005 with a 3-1 upset of No. 2 seed Seneca Valley in the semifinals.
"Our serve-receive and passing game were on in the first two games," Norwin coach Al Warden said. "That got us off to a great start."