When Landon Shorts was preparing to begin his senior men’s volleyball season at Stevenson University, the former Central York High School standout had one goal in mind.
“To win a national championship,” he said.
The 6-foot, 2-inch Shorts certainly did everything in his power to try to make that happen. The outside hitter led his team in kills (352), kills per set (3.06), digs (228) and aces (80) this past season. The Mustangs were consistently in the top 10 of the NCAA Division III rankings.
Stevenson, located in Owings Mills, Maryland, finished its season with an impressive 30-4 record, but it was upset in the Middle Atlantic Conference Tournament final against Arcadia. That left the Mustangs to hope for one of two at-large berths into the national tournament.
Unfortunately for Shorts and his teammates, the eighth-ranked Mustangs were bested for those berths by No. 2 Springfield (27-3) and No. 7 Carthage (23-3).
Major honor: While Shorts' national title dreams were dashed, he still picked up a very big honor to cap his terrific career. After a season when he broke the NCAA all-division record for most career aces (293), Shorts was named the Division III National Outside Attacker of the Year.
“That’s really humbling, considering that there are a lot of really good outside attackers in the country,” Shorts said. “And I wasn’t expecting (to win it) at all. I mean, I knew I was a finalist but I had no idea that I was actually going to win the award.”
The award is sponsored by Off The Block, a website that covers men’s volleyball, and it was voted on by about 20 NCAA Division III men’s volleyball coaches from across the nation. Shorts received 30 votes, which was seven more than the runner-up.
“Nick Smith, who played for SUNY New Paltz, actually was on a team that won the national championship this year,” Shorts said of the runner-up. “And the other was (Matt Slivinski) who played at Carthage, and somehow I was the one that claimed the title.”
A season full of recognition: That national honor was far from the only one that Shorts accrued this season. He also became the first-ever Stevenson men’s volleyball player to be named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association First Team All-America squad.
A two-time MAC Player of the Year in his junior and senior campaigns, Shorts was also honored as the MAC Senior Scholar Athlete for men’s volleyball. Shorts graduated last month with his degree in business administration with a 3.60 grade-point average. He made the dean’s list in all eight of his semesters at the school.
Of all of his honors, Shorts seemed most proud of his record-setting mark for service aces, which he broke in a contest against Widener University back on March 1.
“Serving has always been a long-term part of my game and I knew that if my serve was on that it was hard for my team to lose,” he said. “And to know that I’ve surpassed everyone that has ever played collegiate men’s volleyball at any level is pretty incredible.”
The future: Shorts' educational career, however, is far from over. He expects to pursue a master’s of business administration degree at Misericordia University this fall. He’s also expecting to help with the men’s and women’s volleyball programs in some type of coaching capacity.
“I’m excited about it,” Shorts said. “And I’ll be up there with my former (Stevenson) teammate Rob Wingert, who is the head coach of the men’s team. Rob was a senior when I was a freshman and he was actually Stevenson’s first-ever All-American. And I’m the second, but the first first-team one.”
So will Landon remind Wingert of that when he joins the coaching staff next year?
“Oh yeah,” he said with a laugh. “Of course.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.