ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Four Penn State Altoona men’s volleyball players were voted to the first team of the All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference team and head coach Phil Peterman took co-Coach of the Year honors, as the league released its postseason awards on Wednesday.
Lions volleyball had a big presence on the top level of the All-AMCC squad, as four of the seven spots on the first team were occupied by members of Penn State Altoona men’s volleyball. Selected first team All-Conference were senior middle hitter Dan Downs (Reading, PA/Daniel Boone), senior opposite/middle hitter Justin Bannister (Willow Hill, PA/Fannett-Metail), sophomore setter Tommy Kisick (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe), and sophomore libero Brandon Arentz (Mount Wolf, PA/Northeastern).
Downs had a big year in the middle for the Lions during his senior campaign. In the AMCC, he ranked first in hitting percentage (.360) and solo blocks (44), second in total blocks (83), third in points (320.5) and points per set (3.3), fourth in kills (246) and blocks per set (0.85), fifth in kills per set (2.51), and seventh in block assists (39). Downs also ranked among the top players in NCAA Division III men’s volleyball in several categories, including being 20th in the nation in hitting percentage, 38th in blocks per set, and 74th in points per set. Additionally, he set new Penn State Altoona men’s volleyball single season records for hitting percentage and solo blocks and tied the program’s single season record for total blocks, a mark that he set in 2017. Downs finishes his Lions career with the best hitting percentage in program history, as he posted a .355 attack percentage in his two years (2017-18) with the team.
During the season, Downs was twice selected as the AMCC’s Player of the Week. At the conclusion of the regular season, the senior was voted to the first team of the All-North Eastern Athletic Conference squad. This is Downs’ first career selection to the first team of the AMCC All-Conference squad, as he was a second team pick last year.
Bannister capped his four-year Penn State Altoona men’s volleyball career with an excellent season that included setting personal career-highs in several statistical categories. In the AMCC, the senior finished second in solo blocks (22), fourth in service aces (23), fifth in aces per set (0.24), sixth in digs (183), digs per set (1.91), and points (264.0), seventh in kills (208) and points per set (2.8), eighth in kills per set (2.17), ninth in hitting percentage (.184), 10th in total blocks (44), and 12th in blocks per set (0.46). This season, Bannister became the men’s volleyball program’s all-time leader in solo blocks (82) and total blocks (222) in his four years (2015-18) with the team. He is also tied for first all-time in matches played (102) in his Penn State Altoona career.
At the end of the regular season, Bannister was a second team All-NEAC pick. This is his first selection to the AMCC’s All-Conference team.
Kisick blossomed for the Lions during his sophomore campaign as the team’s starting setter. The sophomore led the AMCC in assists (863) while ranking second in the conference in assists per set (8.46), fifth in digs (187), 10th in digs per set (1.83) and solo blocks (10), 15th in total blocks (34), 17th in block assists (24), 19th in service aces (13), and 20th in blocks per set (0.33). Among all NCAA Division III men’s volleyball players, Kisick is 41st in assists per set. This year, he became the Penn State Altoona men’s volleyball program’s all-time leader in assists, as he has accumulated 1,539 assists in his two years (2017-18) with the Lions.
During the season, Kisick was awarded one AMCC Player of the Week recognition, and he earned third team All-NEAC honors at the conclusion of the regular season. This is Kisick’s first career selection to an AMCC All-Conference team.
Arentz changed positions midseason, moving from outside hitter to the team’s starting libero. The sophomore excelled in his new role, leading the AMCC in digs (295) while ranking second in digs per set (2.89). He was also seventh in the conference in assists (74), ninth in assists per set (0.73), 12th in solo blocks (9), 15th in service aces (14), and 20th in kills (104). In the NCAA Division III, Arentz is 18th individually in digs per set. He set a Penn State Altoona men’s volleyball single match record for aces on February 17 against the College of Saint Elizabeth, when he recorded seven service aces in his team’s win.
Arentz was a second team All-NEAC pick at the conclusion of the 2018 regular season. Last year, he was voted the AMCC’s Newcomer of the Year while also taking first team All-AMCC honors.
After being voted the AMCC’s Coach of the Year in men’s volleyball last season, Peterman becomes a repeat award winner this season, this time sharing the 2018 Coach of the Year honors with Penn State Behrend head coach Phil Pisano. Peterman guided the Lions to a 16-win season this year, the third-most overall wins in a season in team history. His squad compiled a 3-1 record in the AMCC, tying for the top conference record in the league. Peterman’s team is fourth among all NCAA Division III programs in digs per set (12.13), and the Lions are also 10th in Division III in attacks per set (30.13), 23rd in opponent hitting percentage allowed (.164), 39th in blocks per set (1.73), and 45th in kills per set (10.78). In the six-year history of men’s volleyball as a varsity sport at Penn State Altoona, Peterman has compiled an 82-85 record as the team’s head coach during that span.
Penn State Altoona men’s volleyball finished with a 16-13 overall record this season. In the team’s primary conference, the NEAC, it placed fourth in the regular season standings with a 5-3 league record, and the Lions won their first round NEAC Tournament match to earn their third consecutive trip to the conference semifinals. In the AMCC, the team’s secondary volleyball conference, the Lions went 3-1.