Lions Beat Behrend 3-1

Photo (by Joel Nelson): Penn State Altoona's Dan Downs and Tommy Kisick go up to attempt a block on a Penn State Behrend's #13 Dillon Hildebrand during Saturday's match in the Adler Arena.
Photo (by Joel Nelson): Penn State Altoona's Dan Downs and Tommy Kisick go up to attempt a block on a Penn State Behrend's #13 Dillon Hildebrand during Saturday's match in the Adler Arena.

by Joel Nelson

ALTOONA, Pa. – The Penn State Altoona men's volleyball team picked up its tenth victory of the season on Saturday afternoon, winning 3-1 over Penn State Behrend in Adler Arena. 

Penn State Altoona (10-10) notched a 25-17 victory in the first set, but Behrend (9-9) responded with a 25-17 win of its own in the second set. Penn State Altoona had a breakout third set, winning 25-12, before surviving a close fourth set 28-26 to take the match.

The Lions' Dan Downs (Reading, PA/Daniel Boone) finished the match with a career-high eight solo blocks to go along with two block assists. He also brought home 11 kills and a team-high .478 hitting percentage.

Downs' blocking performance in today's match landed him in several spots in the Lions record books. His totals of eight solo blocks and ten total blocks both tie for second in the Penn State Altoona men's volleyball program's single match records, and he also established a new team single season record for solo blocks with 34 solos to date this season.

Justin Bannister (Willow Hill, PA/Fannett-Metal) picked up seven kills, two aces, four assists and a team-high 14 digs. He added two block assists to tie former Lion Zack Graham (2014-16) for the most total blocks in Penn State Altoona men's volleyball program history with 202 blocks, and Bannister's next block will give him the all-time record.

Tommy Kisick (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe) posted 37 assists to keep alive a streak of recording at least 32 assists in a match, which is now extended to four matches. Brian Sheddy (Shrewsbury, PA/Susquehannock) led the Lions in kills with 12 and to go along with nine digs and one ace.

As the main libero today, Brandon Arentz (Mount Wolf, PA/Northeastern) collected 13 digs and a pair of kills. Ian Rathgeb (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) and Ryan Dry (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) totaled seven kills each.

Penn State Altoona finished off the first set with a 6-0 run to take a 25-17 victory. In the second set, Behrend got off to a hot 6-1 start, forcing Penn State Altoona into a timeout. Penn State Altoona would not lead in the second set and fell 25-17. 

With the score 4-4 in the third set, Penn State Altoona notched a 4-0 run and did not look back. Coach Phil Peterman's squad finished the third set on an 11-2 run to get the 25-12 victory.

The popcorn was much-needed in an entertaining fourth set, as neither team led by more than three points. The energy in the building rose when Penn State Altoona got a kill from Sheddy to take a 27-26 lead. Downs put the icing on the cake with a block to finish off the fourth set 28-26 and help his team win the match 3-1.

Next up, the Lions will take their 2-0 March record into Greenville, Pa. as they take on Thiel College on Wednesday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m.