INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Penn State Altoona men's volleyball will face #9 Hunter College on Saturday, April 22 in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship Tournament.
The NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Committee announced the field of 12 teams for the championship bracket on Monday morning. Eight conferences were awarded automatic qualification for the 2017 championship. The four remaining berths were reserved for Pool C, which consists of institutions from automatic-qualifying conferences that were not their conference champion, as well as any Pool B teams.
The Lions will travel to New York, N.Y. this upcoming Saturday, April 22 to face the nationally-ranked Hunter squad at its home gym, the Hunter Sportsplex. Start time for the match has not yet been announced.
Penn State Altoona (26-6, 15-1 NEAC) received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, courtesy of winning the North Eastern Athletic Conference title this past weekend. The Lions, which earned the top seed in the NEAC, defeated SUNY Polytechnic Institute 3-1 in last Friday's conference semifinal match before winning 3-1 over Wells College on Saturday to clinch the league championship and the NCAA Tournament automatic qualification.
Penn State Altoona's lineup features the NEAC's 2017 Player of the Year, sophomore outside hitter Bradley Colditz (Upper St. Clair, PA/Upper St. Clair), and Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore Waldemar Rivera-Berrios (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico/Samuel Clemens). Colditz currently ranks ninth out of all Division III players in kills (367) and 28th in kills per set (3.31). Rivera-Berrios is the national leader in digs (494) and digs per set (4.30).
This season, in just its fifth year as a varsity sport at the campus, the Lions have set program records for overall wins (26) and conference wins (15). The team's NEAC title, NEAC regular season championship, and berth into the NCAA Tournament are all program firsts.
Hunter (27-6, 9-0 CUNYAC) also won its conference, the City University of New York Athletic Conference, to earn automatic qualification into the NCAA Tournament. After winning the regular season title with a perfect 8-0 record versus CUNYAC opponents, the Hawks took down Brooklyn College 3-0 and Baruch College 3-1 to win the conference tournament last Thursday, April 13.
Hunter men's volleyball has found great success within the CUNYAC over the years. The Hawks have been CUNYAC champions a league-high 15 times in a 30-year span, and Hunter has also been regular season champions of the conference 13.5 times in that period. This will be Hunter's second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Hawks' lineup includes junior libero Joseph Muir, who was voted the 2017 CUNYAC Player of the Year. He currently ranks third in Division III in digs (351) and fifth in digs per set (3.31). Hunter's first-year head coach, Austin Voges, was selected the CUNYAC Coach of the Year.
The winner of Saturday's match between Penn State Altoona and Hunter will advance to face the top seed in the NCAA Tournament, Springfield College, on Friday, April 28 in the national quarterfinals. Springfield is hosting the quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship rounds on April 28-30 at its Blake Arena.