North Allegheny volleyball off to fast start | TribLIVE.com
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North Allegheny's girls volleyball team celebrates after scoring against Penn-Trafford Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 at Penn-Trafford.

Erasing a two-set deficit last Wednesday night against Upper St. Clair was a solid statement for North Allegheny sophomore setter Abby Miller. It was an imperfect victory to cap a tough stretch to open the season for the Tigers girls volleyball team.

“I think it would be a good boost for our team morale and confidence,” said Miller, before North Allegheny beat the Panthers, 3-2, on the road to improve to 3-0. “When other teams see we beat a good team, they’ll know we are definitely good competition.”

All North Allegheny has seen early on in the season is good competition. The Tigers opened by sweeping Freeport, which won the WPIAL Class AA title last season, and had another sweep of Penn-Trafford, another postseason qualifier from last year.

Before section play starts, North Allegheny will take on another playoff qualifier, Mt. Lebanon.

Tigers coach Heidi Miller doesn’t have much say when it comes to setting up the nonsection schedule.

All she tells athletic director Bob Bozzuto is to schedule tough competition.

“We never have a good, easy night,” Miller said. “This schedule is always preparing you for the playoffs. We face the best every time we step on the court.”

Against the Panthers, North Allegheny displayed what makes it so tough. Offensively, the Tigers displayed a balanced attack.

Paige Miller (12 kills), Kayla Dinkins (10), Anna Sprys (10) and Avery Tuman (10) all finished with double-digit kills. While the Tigers lost the first two sets 25-22 and 25-23 before rallying to paste Upper St. Clair, 25-10, 25-18 and 15-7, in the final three sets.

Paige Miller, a freshman, has led the team in kills in all three of North Allegheny’s matches.

“I think we are very versatile with our hitting,” Dinkins said.

What is North Allegheny working on to continue to improve its attack?

“Probably serve-receive,” Abby Miller said. “I think our passing has been the weakest link on the team. To run middle we have to have pass close to net. We can do it in practice, but we can’t execute in a game.”

Getting that down will help North Allegheny navigate through a tough section.

The nonsection schedule will make sure of it.

The win against Upper St. Clair has the Tigers headed in the right direction.

“(That) was a great test for kids in a starting role to play a good team ranked in the top of the WPIAL with us,” Heidi Miller said. “It was the first opportunity to play under pressure with a team that matches us with size and skill. It was more meaningful for us.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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