ALTOONA, Pa. - The Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference released its 2017 postseason awards in men’s volleyball on Thursday, and Penn State Altoona was well-represented, earning two individual awards and getting a total of five All-Conference selections.
Fifth-year head coach Phil Peterman was voted the AMCC Coach of the Year. He guided the Lions to a perfect 8-0 record in the AMCC this season, clinching the program’s first-ever conference championship. Penn State Altoona sealed the AMCC title by sweeping each of its four league opponents, D’Youville College, Hilbert College, Medaille College, and Penn State Behrend, during the regular season.
Under Peterman’s coaching this season, the Lions set program-highs for overall wins (26) and AMCC wins (8). In the North Eastern Athletic Conference, the team’s primary men’s volleyball conference, Peterman’s Lions posted a program-best 15-1 record en route to a conference championship and the team’s first NCAA Division III Tournament berth.
This season, Peterman’s players earned nine NEAC Player of the Week awards, seven Eastern College Athletic Conference Player of the Week recognitions, and six AMCC Player of the Week honors. This is Peterman’s first career AMCC Coach of the Year award in men’s volleyball.
Selected the AMCC’s Newcomer of the Year was freshman outside/opposite hitter Brandon Arentz (Mount Wolf, PA/Northeastern). In just his first year of college volleyball, Arentz showed himself to be one of the most well-rounded athletes in the conference, contributing steadily both offensively and defensively. In the AMCC, he ranked first in solo blocks (25), second in digs (229), fourth in digs per set (2.06), fifth in total blocks (64), eighth in kills per set (2.03), block assists (39), and points (281.5), and ninth in blocks per set (0.58) and points per set (2.5).
Arentz was selected the ECAC Division III South Region’s Rookie of the Week three times during the season, and he was also picked the AMCC Player of the Week and the NEAC Player of the Week one time each.
In addition to being voted the AMCC’s top first-year player, Arentz was a first team All-Conference selection.
Joining Arentz on the first team of the All-AMCC squad were sophomore outside hitter Bradley Colditz (Upper St. Clair, PA/Upper St. Clair) and sophomore libero Waldemar Rivera-Berrios (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico/Samuel Clemens).
Colditz had a tremendous year offensively for the Lions. He ranked first in the AMCC kills (367) and points (401), fourth in hitting percentage (.259), fifth in kills per set (3.31), and sixth in points per set (3.6). Colditz was also ninth in digs (149), 12th in total blocks (36), 13th in block assists (28), and 14th in solo blocks (8). During the season, Colditz was twice named the AMCC Player of the Week while also taking NEAC and ECAC Division III South Region Player of the Week honors once each.
Rivera-Berrios anchored the Lions’ defense while posting one of the best defensive statistical seasons in the NCAA this season. He led all Division III players this season in both digs (494) and digs per set (4.30). Rivera-Berrios also set a new team record for the number of digs in a season, and he is currently on pace to set a new program record in digs per set. The libero earned a slew of awards this year, as he was selected the NEAC Defensive Player of the Week a league-high six times and the ECAC Division III South Region Defensive Player of the Week three times.
Voted second team All-AMCC were junior middle hitter Daniel Downs (Reading, PA/Daniel Boone) and senior outside hitter Jacob Byers (Level Green, PA/Penn Trafford).
Downs was a big presence at the net for the Lions this season. In the AMCC, he ranked first in solo blocks (25), second in block assists (56), total blocks (81), and hitting percentage (.352), fifth in blocks per set (0.70), seventh in points (299), eighth in points per set (2.6) and kills (231), and ninth in kills per set (1.99). Downs was an AMCC Player of the Week pick one time during the season.
Byers battled through injury this year while still proving to be one of the top players in the AMCC. In the conference, he ranked fourth in kills per set (3.35), service aces per set (0.33), and points per set (4.0), fifth in hitting percentage (.257), aces (26), and points (308.5), and sixth in kills (261) and solo blocks (15). Byers was twice selected the AMCC’s Player of the Week this season. The senior was the AMCC’s Co-Newcomer of the Year in 2014 and was a second team All-AMCC pick in 2015.
Penn State Altoona men’s volleyball’s season continues this Saturday, April 22, when the Lions make their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Penn State Altoona, which has the ninth seed in the tournament, travels to New York City to take on eighth-seeded Hunter College for a 4:00 p.m. match. The winner of that match travels to Springfield College in Springfield, Mass. the following weekend for the next round of the bracket.