Lions Cruise Past Eagles in NEAC Opener

Photo (by Joel Nelson): Penn State Altoona freshman Andrew Taylor goes up to hit the ball past St. Elizabeth's Emmanual Adam during Saturday's win in the Adler Arena.
Photo (by Joel Nelson): Penn State Altoona freshman Andrew Taylor goes up to hit the ball past St. Elizabeth's Emmanual Adam during Saturday's win in the Adler Arena.

ALTOONA, Pa. – In the teams' first North Eastern Athletic Conference match of the 2018 season on Saturday afternoon, Penn State Altoona men's volleyball rolled to a 3-0 victory over the College of Saint Elizabeth at the Adler Arena.

The Lions (7-8, 1-0 NEAC) sailed to a 25-5 win in the first set, hitting at a .706 clip as a team. Penn State Altoona went on to pick up 25-16 and 25-21 triumphs in the next two sets.

Penn State Altoona had a banner day serving the ball, recording 20 aces as a team. That total of 20 aces set a new Lions volleyball record for the most service aces in a single match. Additionally, Brandon Arentz (Mount Wolf, PA/Northeastern) finished with seven aces individually – all of them coming in the first set – to establish new team records for the most aces in a match and in a single set.

Brian Sheddy (Shrewsbury, PA/Susquehannock) led the Lions in kills with five, while Dan Downs (Reading, PA/Daniel Boone), Ryan Dry (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone), and Ian Rathgeb (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) each finished the match with four kills.

Tommy Kisick (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe) put up a team-high 12 set assists and chipped in a pair of kills. Justin Bannister (Willow Hill, PA/Fannett-Metal) and Jonathan Ruhl (Lancaster, PA/Manheim Township) tied for the team high in digs with five apiece.

Andrew Taylor (Demlar, NY/Bethlehem Central) recorded a team-high two solo blocks, while Kaleb Gahagan (Williamsburg, PA/Central) added one solo block. Taylor and Gahagan, along with Brian Downey (Howell, NJ/Howell), each contributed three kills.

It was a well-rounded day statistically for the Lions. Out of the 12 players who saw action in Saturday's match, 10 of them finished with at least one kill, nine of them had at least one ace, and eight of them recorded at least one assist.

Ahead 6-4 in the first set, Penn State Altoona reeled off a 10-0 run to break the game open. During that run, Arentz posted all seven of his aces while the Lions got two kills from Downs and another from Kisick. The Lions ended the set on a 6-0 run, helped by kills from Downs, Rathgeb, and Kisick.

The Lions built a 10-point lead midway through the second set, with back-to-back kills from Dry and Taylor giving the home team a 17-7 advantage. Three of Penn State Altoona's final four points came courtesy of two Dry kills and one Dylan Appleman (Roaring Spring, PA/Central) kill.

Tied 12-12 in the third set, the Lions were able to grind out a four-point win in the set to seal the sweep of St. Elizabeth (3-9, 0-1 NEAC). Ruhl's ace helped Penn State Altoona to a 22-17 lead, and three errors by the visitors helped the Lions wrap up the set and the match.

Penn State Altoona men's volleyball is back in action in the Adler Arena tomorrow, Sunday, February 18, when it hosts a NEAC-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference crossover tri-match. The Lions face NEAC opponent Lancaster Bible College to start the day at 1:00 p.m., and Penn State Altoona also plays first-year AMCC foe Hiram College at 5:00 p.m. Lancaster Bible and Hiram go up against each other at 3:00 p.m.