by Joel Nelson
The Penn State Altoona Lions are set to begin their 2019 quest for success in their seventh season as an NCAA Division III team. They are coached by Phil Peterman, who has been with the team for all seven seasons.
The Lions finished the 2018 campaign with a 16-13 overall record, and the squad earned a spot in the North Eastern Athletic Conference playoffs. They defeated Medaille College three sets to one in the first round, but fell three sets to none against Lancaster Bible College in the semifinals.
Peterman welcomes back seniors Dan Downs (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) and Brian Sheddy (Shrewsbury, PA/Susquehannock). Downs, a first team All-NEAC and All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference pick, led the team in kills last year with 246, while Sheddy was third with 206. Among returning players, Sheddy led all in digs per set with 2.24. Downs and Sheddy were first and third in points last year, as the two combined for 551.5 points. Downs also finished with 83 blocks last year, 39 more than any other player.
Downs and Sheddy have statistically made their marks in the record books at Penn State Altoona. They rank fourth and sixth in kills all-time. In services aces, Sheddy is fourth, while Downs is tied for sixth. Downs' .355 career attack percentage ranks at the top, while Sheddy is fourth all-time in digs. With a 2.89 points per set average, Downs' mark is sixth all-time, and he is also third all-time in total blocks and block assists. Downs has 627 career points, fifth all-time, while Sheddy is seventh with 467.5.
Both players are certainly capable of achieving the top spot in some all-time records. In solo blocks, Downs needs 13 this season to take the all-time lead, while Sheddy needs to play in 13 matches to break the all-time match record.
The Lions welcome in plenty of first-year players for the 2019 season. They include Ben Beaver (Hummelstown, PA/Lower Dauphin), Micah Brinker (Lock Haven, PA/PA Cyber), Brandon Caffrey (Northampton, PA/Northampton), Eric Cassaday (Bel Air, MD/Bel Air), Tyler Chan (Framingham, MA/Framingham), Danny Dry (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone), Alistair Lawson (Kennett Square, PA/Unionville), Daniel Jordan (Pittsburgh, PA/Thomas Jefferson), Mirko Pandini (Greensburg, PA/Greater Latrobe), Jon Ramsey (Pittsburgh, PA/Shaler), Nathaniel Reinert (State College, PA/State College), Ben Remlinger (Pittsburgh, PA/Baldwin), and Kyle Whiteman (Northampton, PA/Northampton).
Now that men's volleyball is a full championship sport within the AMCC, Penn State Altoona has left the NEAC behind and will put its focus on winning the 2019 AMCC title.
The Lions begin their season on Saturday, January 26 in Lancaster, Pa., where they will square off with Lancaster Bible College and Marymount University, both out-of-conference opponents. The team will return home Saturday, February 2 to begin conference play with Geneva College at 1 p.m., then face non-conference opponent Keuka College.
Penn State Altoona's other five matches in Adler Arena are scheduled between Friday, February 15 to Sunday, February 23. On February 15, they take on Hiram College before facing the University of Mount Union on Thursday, February 21. A tri-match is scheduled on Saturday, February 23 with Thiel College and Penn State Behrend. The team's final match of the season in Adler Arena will be Sunday, February 23 against conference foe Wittenberg University at 1 p.m.
To view the team's complete 2019 schedule, click HERE.