They'll be Back

They'll be Back

WATERTOWN, Wis. -- As the final point of the championship match fell on their side of the net, the Sabercats faced an unfamiliar reality: they had been beaten at the NCCAA national championships. But in the throes of the disappointment, the same resilience and determination that brought the senior-less team to the national finale shone through, and one thing was clear at that moment:  

They'll be back.

This team thrives on pursuing excellence. The reality that a team would be disappointed with a second-place national finish speaks volumes for the high standards they hold. The coaching staff's detailed preparation reinforces that standard. The hard work of the student-athletes on a weekly basis reinforces this standard. And even their results reflect that standard: over the last four trips to NCCAA Nationals, just one team has been able to beat MBU.

That amounts to a 20-1 record at the national stage.

This group knows how it feels to win the title, so this runner-up finish will sting. But the team's experience that weekend could bode well for next year. Even when they fell short for the first time, everyone that played that weekend set a career-high mark of some sort. Whether it was passing a career milestone or notching an individual-best showing, the team left seven individual records and four team-season-highs inside the Davis Field House on the Bob Jones University campus. Couple a showing like that along with the taste of defeat, and it's just fuel for the fire.

Storming and Norming

Like most good stories, this season's was colored with challenges. The team had to grow into now-vacant leadership roles during the first half of the season, as they went through the inevitable storming stage of team identity. An early-season loss to Emmaus proved that this group hadn't found their stride yet, and other defeats in September threatened to drop the team's winning percentage below .500 for just the second time since 2010.

But the young group turned it around. Once October hit, they posted a 6-3 record through the month to set themselves up for their fourth consecutive postseason run - one that would prove memorable in its own way.

After sweeping through their regional championship without dropping a set, the Sabercats had to work harder than ever to progress through the national tournament. Down 13-9 in the fifth set against #6 Toccoa Falls, the Sabercats' season looked to be in real danger. But a 6-0 run propelled a comeback worth recalling, as the Sabercats were not only trailing in the final set but also trailed the match, 2-1. The very next day, they had to come back again, as they fell behind the powerhouse of Geneva, 2-1, before claiming two dramatic closing sets to earn the top seed from their pool.

We all know what happened after that - after beating Emmaus in a long, four-set semifinal, the Sabercats were running on fumes for the title match. Their labor to get there seemed to take its toll, as they were outlasted by the BJU Bruins, who put together an eye-catching 36-5 season and the first national title in program history. 

Accolades Abundant

The Blue and Gold made a strong representation on the All-American stage this year, as two of the seven first-team selections came from MBU. Claire Hansel, who completely avoided the "sophomore slump", and Kelsey Johnson, who nearly led the NCAA DIII in triple-doubles, both took home the recognition of the best in the nation. Besides that, MBU landed six on the All-Independent 1st Team from the Association of Division III Independents.

On an individual level, the Sabercats had three team members take home AD3I awards. Kelsey Johnson took home player of the year honors, McKenzie Janke was named the best Libero in the Association, and head coach Regina DeLozier earned the title of Coach of the Year for the third time in six seasons.

And those awards were well-earned. Besides the second-place finish, the Sabercats cruised their way to a 24-13 record, which included a victory at the season-opening Spikefest Tournament and an overall record of 13-2 against NCCAA DII competition. Of those 13 losses, five of them came in the fifth set of the match. All that came from a group without any seniors.

They'll be back.

Awards Breakdown

At yesterday's assembly on the MBU campus, DeLozier announced the team awards, which are listed below with the other NCCAA and AD3I recognition this season.

AD3I 1st Team All-Independent   
Gabrielle Carpenter Claire Hansel
McKenzie Janke Karley Johnson
Kelsey Johnson Jessica Ureke
Regina DeLozier (Coach of the Year)  
NCCAA DII 1st Team All-America      
Claire Hansel Kelsey Johnson
NCCAA Scholar-Athletes  
Karley Johnson Kelsey Johnson
Team Awards  
Most Valuable Offensive:  Claire Hansel
Most Valuable Defensive: McKenzie Janke   
Most Valuable: Kelsey Johnson
Coach's Award: Jessica Ureke   


For more on the team, visit their team page HERE

Home Stretch
December 10, 2019 Home Stretch
Johnson Shines On
November 11, 2019 Johnson Shines On
Regional Hosts Announced
June 13, 2019 Regional Hosts Announced
Groundwork: Laid
May 17, 2019 Groundwork: Laid
One for Good Measure
May 16, 2019 One for Good Measure
Causin' More Trouble
May 14, 2019 Causin' More Trouble
Forward Steps
May 10, 2019 Forward Steps
Two Down
May 6, 2019 Two Down
Causin' Trouble
April 23, 2019 Causin' Trouble
Time of Transition
April 8, 2019 Time of Transition
Go Time
March 28, 2019 Go Time
One Mo Time
March 18, 2019 One Mo Time
Pushing New Limits
March 15, 2019 Pushing New Limits
Recapping Records
March 13, 2019 Recapping Records
Mo Again
February 26, 2019 Mo Again
Hello Again
February 23, 2019 Hello Again
One Against Two
February 23, 2019 One Against Two
Softball Season: Cancelled
February 21, 2019 Softball Season: Cancelled
Double Double-Double Double
February 19, 2019 Double Double-Double Double
Top Spot for Regionals
February 19, 2019 Top Spot for Regionals
Another Top Spot for Regionals
February 19, 2019 Another Top Spot for Regionals
Tricks in the Book
February 19, 2019 Tricks in the Book
Mo' for Mo
February 12, 2019 Mo' for Mo
Double-Double Double
February 5, 2019 Double-Double Double
Wilkerson Weekly
February 5, 2019 Wilkerson Weekly
Breaking Down Barriers
January 30, 2019 Breaking Down Barriers
Callie Mo Steals the Show
January 29, 2019 Callie Mo Steals the Show
Caribbean Connections
January 24, 2019 Caribbean Connections
Year 2
January 17, 2019 Year 2
The Main Event
December 21, 2018 The Main Event
Carrying the Mantle
December 15, 2018 Carrying the Mantle
Peaks and Valleys
December 11, 2018 Peaks and Valleys
Another Accolade
December 7, 2018 Another Accolade
Brick and Mortar
December 7, 2018 Brick and Mortar
Book Grabs Weekly Award
December 4, 2018 Book Grabs Weekly Award
They'll be Back
December 4, 2018 They'll be Back
NCCAA All-Americans Announced
November 28, 2018 NCCAA All-Americans Announced
Record-Setting Fall
November 26, 2018 Record-Setting Fall
Only the Best
November 26, 2018 Only the Best
Setting things Straight
November 26, 2018 Setting things Straight
Chasing Four
November 14, 2018 Chasing Four
Hansel Hoards Awards
November 12, 2018 Hansel Hoards Awards
On the Rise
November 9, 2018 On the Rise
Monthly Honors for Hansel
November 8, 2018 Monthly Honors for Hansel
Eyeing the Finish Line
November 8, 2018 Eyeing the Finish Line
Hands down Hansel
October 30, 2018 Hands down Hansel
Sponable Strikes Again
October 30, 2018 Sponable Strikes Again
Hats Off for Hansel
October 23, 2018 Hats Off for Hansel
A Nod for Nelson
October 23, 2018 A Nod for Nelson
New News, Old News
October 16, 2018 New News, Old News
Add it to the Collection
October 10, 2018 Add it to the Collection
Honors for Hernandez
October 9, 2018 Honors for Hernandez
Johnson, Sponable Shine On
October 9, 2018 Johnson, Sponable Shine On
Rankin Secures Weekly Award
October 2, 2018 Rankin Secures Weekly Award
Johnson Doubles Up
September 18, 2018 Johnson Doubles Up
Alumni Day 2018 Review
August 25, 2018 Alumni Day 2018 Review