Lions Return to Action, Sweep Wilson 3-0

Photo (by Joel Nelson): Penn State Altoona senior Justin Bannister goes up to hit the ball during Monday night's win over Wilson College in the Adler Arena.
Photo (by Joel Nelson): Penn State Altoona senior Justin Bannister goes up to hit the ball during Monday night's win over Wilson College in the Adler Arena.

ALTOONA, Pa. – In its first match since February 24, the Penn State Altoona men's volleyball team picked up its second North Eastern Athletic Conference victory of the season with a 3-0 win over Wilson College on Monday night in the Adler Arena.

The Lions (9-10, 2-1 NEAC) shook off any rust they may have accumulated from their 16-day layoff, sweeping Wilson (6-5, 1-2 NEAC) 25-19, 25-22, and 25-14.

Justin Bannister (Willow Hill, PA/Fannett-Metal) led Penn State Altoona in kills and blocks, finishing with 10 kills and a match-high four solo blocks to go along with seven digs. Brian Sheddy (Shrewsbury, PA/Susquehannock) added nine kills, 12 digs, and a match-high three service aces. Ian Rathgeb (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) posted seven kills, five digs, and one block assist, and Dan Downs (Reading, PA/Daniel Boone) had six kills, eight digs, three solo blocks, and one block assist.

Tommy Kisick (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe) led all players with 32 assists while also contributing nine digs. Brandon Arentz (Mount Wolf, PA/Northeastern) totaled a team-best 16 digs, and Jonathan Ruhl (Lancaster, PA/Manheim Township) recorded seven digs.

As a team, Penn State Altoona finished with 65 digs – the most digs recorded by the team in a three-set match in Lions history.

Wilson held a 12-11 lead in the first set before Penn State Altoona imposed its tempo on the Phoenix, outscoring them 14-7 throughout the rest of the set. Up 20-18, the Lions got back-to-back kills from Downs and Kisick before Bannister added a solo block and a kill of his own to help the home team increase its lead to 24-18. Another Bannister solo block closed out the set for Penn State Altoona.

In the second set, Penn State Altoona and Wilson again found themselves locked in a close game before the Lions pulled ahead in the second half of the set. The Phoenix built a 16-13 lead, but Penn State Altoona erased its deficit with a 6-0 run. During that run, the Lions got kills from Sheddy and Downs, a solo block by Downs, and a service ace from Arentz. Later, Downs' block and Bannister's kill put Penn State Altoona up 24-21, and a Wilson service error accounted for the final point of the set for the Lions.

Penn State Altoona found itself down 8-7 in the third set before a quick 4-0 run – aided by three Wilson attack errors – helped the Lions jump ahead 11-8. Two kills and a block from Bannister helped the home team extend its lead to 17-10, and Penn State Altoona reeled off the final four consecutive points in the set with two kills by Downs and one kill apiece from Ryan Dry (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) and Bannister.

Lions volleyball's next match is this Saturday, March 17, when the team will host Penn State Behrend at 1:00 p.m. in the Adler Arena.