GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – Four Penn State Altoona men's volleyball players were selected to the North Eastern Athletic Conference's All-Conference squad, when the league announced its postseason awards on Wednesday afternoon.
Voted first team All-NEAC was senior middle hitter Dan Downs (Reading, PA/Daniel Boone).
Downs was a force in the middle for the Lions this season. The senior leads the NEAC in both solo blocks (43) and total blocks (81), and he also ranks second in the conference in blocks per set (0.85) and hitting percentage (.361), fifth in points (311.0), seventh in kills (238), ninth in points per set (3.3), and 11th in kills per set (2.51) and block assists (38). Additionally, Downs is among the top players in NCAA Division III men's volleyball in several statistical categories, including being ranked 20th in the nation in hitting percentage, 38th in blocks per set, and 78th in points per set.
During the season, Downs took one NEAC Player of the Week award, as well as one NEAC Defensive Player of the Week recognition. He set a new Penn State Altoona men's volleyball single season record with his 43 solo blocks this year. This is Downs' first selection to the first team of the All-NEAC team, as he was a second team pick as a junior last season.
Picked to the second team of the All-Conference squad were senior middle/opposite hitter Justin Bannister (Willow Hill, PA/Fannett-Metal) and sophomore outside hitter/libero Brandon Arentz (Mount Wolf, PA/Northeastern).
Bannister capped off his four-year Penn State Altoona men's volleyball career with an excellent senior campaign this spring. In the NEAC, he ranks third in solo blocks (22), 10th in points (254.0), 11th in digs per set (1.94), 12th in kills (199) and digs (180), 15th in total blocks (42) and points per set (2.7), 16th in kills per set (2.14) and service aces (23), and 19th in hitting percentage (.182) and aces per set (0.25).
This season, Bannister became the Penn State Altoona men's volleyball program's all-time record-holder in both solo blocks and total blocks. The senior sits atop each statistical list with 82 career solo blocks and 220 career total blocks. This is Bannister's first career selection to the NEAC's All-Conference team.
Arentz switched positions from outside hitter to the team's starting libero midseason, and the sophomore excelled in his new defensive role. He leads the NEAC in digs (287) and also ranks second in digs per set (2.90). Additionally, Arentz was 12th in the conference in assists per set (0.74), 14th in assists (73), and 19th in solo blocks (9). Among all Division III men's volleyball players, he is 22nd in the country in digs per set.
Arentz was a four-time NEAC Defensive Player of the Week award-winner this season. This is the sophomore's second appearance on the All-NEAC team, as he was also a second team All-Conference pick last year.
Voted third team All-NEAC was sophomore setter Tommy Kisick (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe).
Kisick had a breakout season as a sophomore, setting up the Lions' offense while also contributing solidly in other facets of the game. He ranks second in the NEAC in assists (840) and fourth in assists per set (8.48), and he is also 41st among all Division III men's volleyball players in assists per set. Additionally, Kisick is 11th in the NEAC in digs (185), 14th in digs per set (1.87), and 15th in solo blocks (10), and he also chipped in 58 kills from the setter position.
Kisick became the Penn State Altoona men's volleyball program's all-time leader in assists this season, currently sitting atop the career assists list with 1,516 during his two seasons with the Lions. This is his first career selection to a NEAC All-Conference team.
The All-NEAC team is voted on by the conference's head men's volleyball coaches. To read the league's release about its All-Conference team and postseason awards, click HERE.
Penn State Altoona men's volleyball continues its run in the NEAC Tournament this Saturday, April 14, when the fourth-seeded Lions travel to play top seed Lancaster Bible College at 12:00 p.m. in a semifinal match. The winner of that match advances to play in the NEAC championship match on Sunday, April 15 at 1:00 p.m. in Lancaster.