Varsity Boys Volleyball 10-0 in section play going into final two conference games

Russell Finelsen, Assistant Editor, Sports Editor

The BP boys varsity volleyball team had aspirations going into the season. And, they have delivered big-time on them.

The team is 10-0 in section play going into their final two section games of the season. The team needs victories on their last two section games to guarantee a section title. The title, if claimed by BP, would be the fifth straight title for the Black Hawks.

“We went through the first half of section play without losing, and are hoping to do the same in the second half,” Bethel Park coach Tom Allman said to the Post-Gazette. “But we can’t afford to look past any opponent.”

Due to their record in section play, BP is third in the WPIAL Class AAA rankings. The Black Hawks trail Fox Chapel and Seneca Valley. Fox Chapel is ranked first with a 11-0 record in conference play, while Seneca Valley is second and 9-1 in section play. Penn-Trafford and Plum trail BP, as they are fourth and fifth in the section. Penn-Trafford is 9-1 in the section, while Plum is 8-1.

BP will face Fox Chapel on Friday night on the final night of the season.

“Fox Chapel has proven all year that it deserves to be No. 1 in the rankings, in both the WPIAL and PIAA,” Allman said. “Fox Chapel doesn’t have any weaknesses.”

BP moved up to number three in the rankings after a 3-2 non-section win over Plum on April 7.

This season, BP has not given up a set so far in section play. BP beat Canon-McMillan (2-8) on March 24 and April 16; Moon (2-9) on March 26 and April 21; Upper St. Clair (6-4) on March 31 and April 23; Baldwin (8-2) on April 14; Peters Township (5-5) on April 2 and April 28; and Central Catholic (3-8) on April 9.

The team runs a triangle offense, which is unusual in high school boys volleyball. It involves three outside hitters.

“You don’t see many teams running a triangle offense,” Allman said to the Post-Gazette. “It’s a strange offense that sometimes confuses the opponent.”

The team is led by Jake Dixon, a junior outside hitter who averages at least 20 kills and 35 swings. He was voted second-team All-WPIAL Class AAA last season and is thought by many as one of the best volleyball players in the state.

“Jake can hit well from the front and back row,” Allman said to the Post-Gazette. 

Senior outside hitter Steve Eiben and sophomore outside hitter Mika Kapusta are the last two pieces in the team’s triangle offense. Eiben started last year, while Kapusta is a first-year starter.

Another big part of the team’s success is junior setter Brandon Thorsen. This is the second year for him being setter, and he has done very well in games throughout the season.

“Brandon is the best setter in the section, and one of the best in the WPIAL,” Allman said to the Post-Gazette.

The rest of BP’s roster consists of senior middle hitters Noah Blanc and Nate Harrold; senior libero David Uhlmann; junior defensive specialist Derek Miller; and sophomore utility player Caleb Pierson.

BP had a bye on April 30, and still has two conference games to go. They are against Central Catholic on May 4 and Baldwin on May 6. Baldwin is the biggest challenge, as they are only two games behind BP in WPIAL Class AAA Section 1. Thus, BP needs to win their final two conference games to secure their fifth straight title.

“We played at Baldwin in the first half in front of a big crowd,” Allman said to the Post- Gazette. “I’m expecting another big crowd for the rematch, which is also senior night for us. The section title will be on the line.”