Ryan Merk is a senior outside hitter and a four-year starter for Loyola Academy volleyball. The Penn State recruit is the team’s leading attacker this season.
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
I like to listen to music on the bus rides — like EDM, Avicii, music that gets you hyped to play. And our team, we wear these clown pants (baggy, pinstriped warm-ups), which is a team ritual and tradition.
What is your favorite thing to do off the court?
I like to play beach volleyball and video games.
Why is Penn State a good fit for you?
The academics are great. I went on a campus visit and loved it there. It’s a great community. I love the coaches there, and the team was really open and cool with me when I visited there.
What do you want to improve upon before Penn State?
I want to improve on communication. I’m going there as a libero and need to be on same page as the other passers and be more vocal. And at the next step, the serving gets a lot tougher. So I have to practice my serve receive and perfect that.
If you could play another sport, what would it be?
Football. I played football in grade school. I was a quarterback. It’s just super entertaining. When I played in eighth grade, I still have memories of how fun it was. I’m a big NFL fan, too.
Who is your favorite athlete?
Probably Michael Jordan. His mentality and just being from Chicago, most people look up to him here. I grew up thinking Michael Jordan was the greatest of all time.
What is your dream job?
Actually, my dream job is starting a volleyball club where I could teach young kids the game.
If you are in Walgreens with a couple bucks, what are you buying?
I’m definitely buying some Sour Patch Kids and maybe an Arnold Palmer, the 99-cents one.
What’s something people don’t know about you?
People don’t know I’ve played baseball, football, basketball and volleyball in grade school.
You guys are off to a great start. How’s it going and what’s been key?
It’s going really good. We’re 19-3 right now and off to a really strong start. We feel very confident going into the next couple games. We’re definitely improving every single game. Every single player is contributing more and more. The thing about this team that I love is we all contribute. Everyone we can count on. It all comes with great coaching — the head coach and assistants. They tell us right things to do; the right zones to serve. They teach us right things in practice.