Penn State pair wins USA Volleyball men’s collegiate beach championship

Photo courtesy of USA Volleyball

It’s a national championship repeat for Penn State – in men’s beach volleyball.

Outside attacker Michael Valenzi and libero Ryan Merk defeated the Webber University pair of Peyten Young and Wesley Blazek 21-16, 25-27, 15-13 in the championship match of the USA Volleyball Beach Collegiate Challenge on Sunday in Owings Mills, Maryland.

The Penn State pair was the top-seeded team at the national tournament and finished the event undefeated at 7-0.


Valenzi with the Nittany Lions last season was among the team leaders with 313 service receptions and had a 95.2 percent successful passing rating. The outside attacker also had 15 aces to help the Nittany Lions win the EIVA regular season championship.

Merk as a freshman did not appear in any matches for Penn State in 2022.

This is the second consecutive year that Valenzi and Merk have competed at the USA Volleyball Beach Collegiate Challenge. The pair finished the event last season in ninth place as their teammates Will Bantle and Cal Fisher won the championship.

The Men’s Collegiate Beach Challenge was a three-day event featuring 32 teams at Stevenson University. USA Volleyball started this event in 2021 in an effort to give college men’s beach volleyball players a competitive environment to enhance their skills.