ERIE, Pa. – Down 2-0 to Penn State Behrend in Saturday's Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference match, the Penn State Altoona men's volleyball team nearly pulled off a comeback, but the Lions were ultimately defeated 3-2 at the Junker Center.
Penn State Behrend (7-6, 3-0 AMCC) won the first two sets by scores of 25-13 and 25-16, but Penn State Altoona rallied (8-10, 1-1 AMCC) to take the next two sets by scores of 25-23 and 25-18 to force a fifth set. Behrend took the fifth set, however, prevailing 15-9.
Dan Downs (Reading, PA/Daniel Boone) totaled a career-high 16 kills to lead Penn State Altoona, and he also put up a team-high four total blocks with two solos and two assists. Justin Bannister (Willow Hill, PA/Fannett-Metal) added 13 kills, 12 digs, one solo block, and one block assist, while Brandon Arentz (Mount Wolf, PA/Northeastern) led the Lions in digs with 17 to go along with 11 kills and one solo block.
Ian Rathgeb (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) contributed six kills, four digs, one solo block, and one block assist, and Brian Sheddy (Shrewsbury, PA/Susquehannock) had six kills, nine digs, and a block assist.
Tommy Kisick (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe) tallied a team-best 45 assists, and he also finished with nine digs, three kills, one solo block, and one block assist. Jonathan Ruhl (Lancaster, PA/Manheim Township) posted five digs.
After losing the first two sets, Penn State Altoona went to work in the third and managed to pull out a two-point win to stay alive in the match. The Lions opened the set with an 11-5 lead, helped by Arentz and Sheddy each contributing a pair of kills during that span. Behrend came back, and the score was tied 23-23 late in the set. But a kill from Bannister and a Behrend attack error closed the set out in favor of Penn State Altoona.
The Lions rode that momentum into the fourth set, where they earned another win to tie the match score. Behrend led 15-12 midway through the game, but Penn State Altoona embarked on a 10-2 run to leap ahead on the scoreboard. Downs was key for the Lions during their run, posting four kills, one solo block, and one block assist during his team's surge. Penn State Altoona went on to win the set by seven points, scoring the final three straight points with a kill and a block by Bannister and a Behrend service error.
The momentum continued to be in Penn State Altoona's corner early in the tiebreaking fifth set, when the Lions got out to a 4-0 lead following two kills each from Bannister and Arentz. But Behrend awoke and was able to outscore the Lions 15-5 over the remainder of the set, pulling on the five-set victory on its home court.
Next up for Penn State Altoona men's volleyball is a North Eastern Athletic Conference home match against Wilson College on Monday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Adler Arena.