Lions’ Comeback Falls Short in Home Opener

Photo (by Joel Nelson): Penn State Altoona senior middle hitter Dan Downs goes up for a swing during Wednesday night's match against Thiel College in the Adler Arena.
Photo (by Joel Nelson): Penn State Altoona senior middle hitter Dan Downs goes up for a swing during Wednesday night's match against Thiel College in the Adler Arena.

by Joel Nelson

ALTOONA, Pa. – In its first-ever match in the new Adler Arena on Wednesday evening, the Penn State Altoona men's volleyball team lost 3-2 against non-conference opponent Thiel College.

The Lions (4-1) dropped the first two sets of the match by scores of 25-19 and 25-22 before mounting a comeback to even the score. Penn State Altoona took the third set 25-12 before tying the match score with a 25-16 victory in the fourth, but Thiel (1-0) prevailed on the night with a 16-14 win in the fifth set.

Dan Downs (Reading, PA/Daniel Boone) led the Lions in kills with 13, and he also had a team-high six total blocks (four solo blocks and two block assists) while adding five digs. Justin Bannister (Willow Hill, PA/Fannett-Metal) got nine kills, eight digs, a solo block, and a service ace, and Ryan Dry (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) recorded six kills and one service ace.

Brandon Arentz (Mount Wolf, PA/Northeastern) posted a team-high 18 digs to go along with eight kills, while Jonathan Ruhl (Lancaster, PA/Manheim Township) picked up 14 digs and Brian Sheddy (Shrewsbury, PA/Susquehannock) notched seven digs with five kills.

Reigning Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Player of the Week Tommy Kisick (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe) brought home a team-high 35 assists to go with 11 digs, two block assists, and a kill.

Thiel opened the first set scoring with a Mitchell Patterson kill. Bannister recorded a service ace for Penn State Altoona to tie the score at 5-5, but Thiel would go on to win the first set 25-19.

The Tomcats began the second set on a 7-1 run before the Lions eventually erased a 12-5 lead to tie the score 21-21. But Thiel proceeded to win the second set 25-22.

The Lions broke out in the third set to keep their hopes alive, winning 25-12, and Penn State Altoona kept its momentum rolling in the fourth set with a 25-16 victory.

The Lions had match point in their sights while leading 14-13 in the fifth and final set, but Thiel rallied to score the next three points and win the match 3-2, snapping Penn State Altoona's season-opening four-match winning streak.

Lions volleyball will look to get back on track this Saturday, January 27, when Penn State Altoona will host a non-conference tri-match with Nazareth College and Mount Saint Joseph University. The Lions play Nazareth at 11:00 a.m. and face Mount St. Joseph at 3:00 p.m., with the two visiting teams playing each other at 1:00 p.m.