Penn College Stepping Up in Men's Volleyball
Pennsylvania College of Technology is stepping up in the men's volleyball world this season, and coach Wes Strayer believes his players have what it will take to make the transition.
The Wildcats open play in the Middle Atlantic Collegiate Volleyball Club League Saturday at Shippensburg University, where they will meet York College and the host team. Penn College will be right back in action Sunday hosting Gettysburg College and Dickinson College at Bardo Gym on West Third Street in Williamsport.
"It will give the student-athletes a chance to play a more challenging schedule," Mike Stanzione, college athletic director, said about the new league of mostly NCAA Division III schools. "I think with our recent success in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference (last year Penn College went 26-1 and won the championship) has given us the impetus to move to the next level," Stanzione said.
Seven players return from last season's team and provide a solid nucleus. They are seniors Dave Atkinson (State College), Gregg Stoneham (Hunterdon, N.J.) and Josh Tomkiel (Springford), juniors Kyle Flook (Cedar Cliff), Matt Staub (Millersville) and Cody Umberger (Lower Dauphin) and sophomore Phil Neiderer (New Oxford).
"I'm hoping that the leadership steps up again," Strayer said. "It's a little tough, we don't have that many (players) that we can scrimmage each other so it's tough to know how well they're going to perform. But we've been to a couple of tournaments and they've done very well there. I'm real enthused about that."
Atkinson will start as the weak-side hitter and split time with freshman Ashlin Hollinger (Penn Manor) while Neiderer and Stoneham are in the middle with Staub and Umberger on the outside. Flook is the team's setter and Bill Hayes, a sophomore from Conneaut Valley, will be the libero.
"I have a good feeling about this season. It just depends on how much the leadership really wants to step up and take control. They have the talent; it's how much they want it," Strayer said.
Also on the squad are senior Patrick Walter (Millersburg), junior Jeff Hortman (Red Lion) and sophomore Derrick DeNardo (Methacton).
Looking ahead to the season, Strayer said, "It's going to be a lot tougher. We're going up against some very good competition. I'm hoping that they really step up and play well, which I don't see them not doing. . They have the potential. It's just them realizing how much potential they have.
"As a coach, you can teach them how to play and where they should be and give them inspiration, but you can't give them the drive and determination. That's something within.
"I'm really looking forward to it and I know the kids are. It's an opportunity they have to really play some very good volleyball," the third-year coach added.
Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college's Athletics Web site.