A rematch of last year's WPIAL Class AAA boys volleyball title match took place in this year's semifinals -- unfortunately for Bethel Park, the results were the same.
"We had our chances in the first set," said Bethel Park coach Tom Allman, after the Black Hawks dropped a 3-1 decision to North Allegheny in a semifinal match that took place May 20.
North Allegheny went on to defeat Norwin last Thursday to win its eighth consecutive WPIAL title.
"A couple of bad calls went against us at the end of that [first] set and North Allegheny pulled out a narrow victory [27-25]. We lost the momentum right there. We had to use too much energy in the second set to get back into the match."
North Allegheny posted a 25-17 victory in the second set to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
"We never got ahead at the start of any of the four sets," Allman said. "We fell behind 3-0 at the beginning of every set. We had to play catch-up in every set. You can't do that against a confident team like North Allegheny. It's just too hard to come back against them."
Bethel Park did pull out a tight 25-23 victory in the third set, but North Allegheny rebounded with a 25-16 win in the fourth set to clinch the victory.
It was Bethel Park's third consecutive appearance in the WPIAL semifinals, and the Black Hawks earned their third consecutive berth in the PIAA tournament.
In 2011, Bethel Park placed third in the WPIAL after defeating Butler Area in the consolation for third place. Last year, the Black Hawks qualified by placing second in the WPIAL. This year, Allman's squad qualified as the WPIAL's third-place team, but no consolation match took place because the top four teams automatically qualify.
"This will be our third consecutive appearance in the state tournament [and sixth overall since 2004]," Allman said. "We're very proud of that."
The first round of the PIAA championships took place Wednesday night and Bethel Park faced off against Central Dauphin, the second-place finisher from District 3, in a match held at Altoona High School.
"District 3 is clearly the strongest district this year, so facing Central Dauphin will be no easy task," Allman said earlier this week. "One fortunate thing is that if we can get past Central Dauphin, we won't have to face North Allegheny again until the semifinals."
The winner of last night's Bethel Park-Central Dauphin match is scheduled to face the winner of the first-round match between District 12 champion George Washington and District 3 third-place finisher Landisville Hempfield.
"One thing we have in our favor is that none of the District 3 teams have seen us play this year," Allman said. "It's not easy to prepare for us."
Bethel Park had four players recognized on the WPIAL Class AAA all-star team, which was announced before last Thursday's title match. Senior libero Dan Burke, sophomore outside hitter Jake Dixon, and senior middle hitter Brandon Hanson were voted to the second team. Senior opposite Lenny Chorney was a third-team selection.
"It's great to have four players voted to the WPIAL all-star team," Allman said. "All four are deserving of the honor. They made a big difference for us this year."
Dixon recorded 23 kills in the semifinal match against North Allegheny, while Hanson had 18.
More All-WPIAL players
Peters Township had two players recognized on the All-WPIAL Class AAA team. Xander Browell, a senior middle hitter, and Christian Fink, a senior libero, were voted to the third team.
Three area players were recognized on the All-WPIAL Class AA team. Thomas Jefferson senior setter Luke Good, Steel Valley junior opposite Dom Keyes and Keystone Oaks senior outside hitter Braydon Griffith were voted to the third team.