GRANTHAM, Pa. – After an 11-day layoff, the Penn State Altoona men's volleyball team returned to action on Wednesday night, when it took a 3-2 loss to non-conference opponent Messiah College at Jordan Court in Hitchcock Arena.
The Lions (8-9) held a 2-1 lead in the match, but Messiah (11-7) rallied to win the fourth and fifth sets to grab the win.
Penn State Altoona started the match by winning the first set 25-22, but Messiah countered with a 25-22 win of its own in the second set. The Lions posted a big victory in the third set, prevailing 25-14 to take the lead. But Messiah won the fourth set 25-18, then cruised to a 15-6 victory in the fifth.
Brian Sheddy (Shrewsbury, PA/Susquehannock) set a new career-high in kills, racking up 18 kills to lead all players on the night. He also recorded a team-high 10 digs.
Dan Downs (Douglassville, PA/Daniel Boone) finished with 12 kills and tied for the team lead in service aces with two, and he also had one solo block and one block assist. Ben Beaver (Hummelstown, PA/Lower Dauphin) had 11 kills.
Jon Ramsey (Pittsburgh, PA/Shaler) had a team-high three total blocks, recording a trio of block assists. Mirko Pandini (Greensburg, PA/Greater Latrobe) finished with two block assists, and Frank Perehinec (Altoona, PA/Altoona) had one solo block. Tyler Chan (Framingham, MA/Framingham) tallied eight digs.
In the first set, Penn State Altoona overcame an early deficit to jump back into things. Down 5-1, the Lions reeled off five straight points to grab a 6-5 advantage, getting two kills and an ace from Downs during the run. Later in the set, Penn State Altoona faced a 14-11 deficit before going on a 5-2 run to even the score 16-16, getting three kills from Beaver and an ace by Whiteman during that span. Leading 23-22 late in the set, the Lions finished things off with kills by Ramsey and Sheddy.
The Lions led 11-10 midway through the second set, before Messiah scored four straight points with two kills by Will Webb and a kill and ace from Adam Black to make it 14-11. Sheddy's kill late in the set cut Messiah's advantage to 22-21, but two kills by Black and a service error helped the Falcons even the match score at one set apiece.
Penn State Altoona responded by running away with the third set. Down 4-3, the Lions used a 5-0 run to jump ahead 8-4, benefitting from four Falcon errors in that stretch. Penn State Altoona fired off four straight points later in the set, using two Messiah errors and kills from Sheddy and Beaver to get out to a nine-point lead, 19-10. Kills from Sheddy and Perehinec, along with another Messiah attack error, helped to close the set out.
Messiah pulled away during the fourth set to even the match 2-2. Tied 4-4, the Falcons went on a 7-1 run to go up 11-6. Kills from Sheddy later in the set helped Penn State Altoona narrow the gap to 19-17, but Messiah outscored the Lions 6-1 the rest of the way to win the set. Four of the Falcons' final six points came courtesy of Lion errors.
Messiah opened up a significant lead in the fifth set. After Sheddy's kill and a Falcon attack error got Penn State Altoona out to a 2-0 advantage, Messiah scored six straight points on four Lion errors and a pair of kills from Webb to make it 6-2. Kills by Sheddy and Downs, along with two Messiah attack errors, helped Penn State Altoona get to within two points, 8-6, of the home team's lead. But Messiah went on another set-clinching run, scoring six points in a row to wrap up the match.
Penn State Altoona men's volleyball gets back to Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference play for its next match, as the Lions will travel to face Hiram College on Saturday, March 16 at 1:00 p.m.